Current Project

by sarritalewis

GUIDE TO KINSHIP AND MAYBE MAGIC

KINSHIP:

a close connection marked by community of interests or similarity in nature or character;

Relationship by nature or character; affinity.

close connection

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I am a member of LEWIS FOREVER a performance collective of four siblings: three sisters and a brother, a director, two dancers and a musician. LF is a family living partially in New York and in Berlin, half Dominican and half Jewish American, a performance collective and a bloodline.

LEWIS FOREVER’s: Guide to Kinship and Maybe Magic is a multi-tier work which began when LF was awarded the MAP fund through Dance New Amsterdam in NYC in 2010. The project is intended as a new cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary work investigating the role of community, family, collectivity, collaboration and performance in our present-day culture.

All members of LEWIS FOREVER were born in the Dominican Republic, they have been working in NYC and the group was founded in 2006 in Berlin, Germany.  LF is currently devising Guide to Kinship and Maybe Magic with partners in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Berlin, Germany and New York, U.S.A, focusing their research on their performance and cultural roots.I will be responsible for the project in Santo Domingo which will take the form of a performance workshop.

The workshop: September 2011 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

At the heart of the workshop is site specificity. The site provides a platform for discourse surrounding art production and the role of the “collective” (or collection of bodies) and their function in contemporary society. The workshop is a place of play and exploration, deconstruction and reconstruction.  Collectively we engaged in community type activities within a very stylized environment, a set, a constructed environment where we worked with representational images of Santo Domingo and Dominican culture as we explored fictional and nonfictional constructions of place, community and self.

The presentation: currently

The public arrives as Rita Indiana’s “ LA HORA DE VOLVE”: “Time to Return” is being played. When they settle S stops the music and projects and plays an audio recording of J:

En los Ojos del Mundo

Vislumbré dos luces en medio de la tarde, no recuerdo el nombre de la calle, pero recuerdo que leí en sus rostros dos historias parecidas, divas de la noche con luna, margaritas en busca del plomo y el humo de esta ciudad de telarañas, con el sol afuera, saludando la tarde y las olas que vienen con furia hasta el malecón. La plataforma de dos monumentos era un piso decadente que hablaba, decía y describía el panorama, le gritaba a los demás transeuntes “mi cuerpo tiene un precio, un valor estimado, un color y sabor a carne cruda y humana” y el sol se fue y la luna posaba en el cielo, y yo presencié todo, desde el ojo del mundo, que soy yo.

Johan Mijail Castillo Guillén

In the eyes of the world

I glimpsed two lights in the middle of the afternoon, I can’t remember the name of the street, but I remember I read two similar stories in their faces , divas of the night with the moon, daisies in search of lead and smoke of this city of spiderwebs, with the sun outside, greeting the evening and the waves that enter the seawall with fury. The platform of two monuments was a decadent floor talking, he said and described the scene, yelling at passers “my body has a price, an estimated value, a color and a flavor of raw human flesh”  and the sun left and the moon rested in the sky, and I witnessed everything from the world’s eye, that I am.

Johan Mijail Castillo Guillén

August 30, 2011

The way they are…….

S: I am coming back again. I leave from Berlin early in the morning and fly to Miami before I fly to Santo Domingo. I’m thinking about everything that’s ahead of me and how I’ve gotten to this point. Its been on my mind for so long to see what it would be like to go back now to that place that I associate with dancing, traffic, noise, garbage, family, sun, warmth, inefficiency, chaos, delinquency, hypocrisy, corruption, laughter, violence and joy.

November 13, 2011

S:Guide to Kinship and Maybe Magic begins with a projection of a place of my birth and where my interests in performance began; a fantasy created in Berlin. It will be a journey, a process which delves into and plays with the accessory like qualities of cultural identity, community, and performance.

December 30,2011

S:When I go through the city (almost always in a car) there are parts that look like Miami with it’s high towered apartment buildings and helicopter landings, a small constellation of wealth on display. Tall buildings placed on alters in the highest parts of the city.  The lowest parts, it seems, have been reserved for the socio-economic bottom of the barrel. Rows of houses connected and protected from the elements with scraps of tin for roofs and dirt floors.The disparity in wealth makes me think that I am constantly traveling between two very strange and different planets that  still share the same language and cultural affinities like food and  music.

I am fascinated by everyone and everything. On the one hand it seems that people are warm and friendly, performing or maybe really believing in the “pure joy of life”.  On the other hand there are constant warnings that it’s dangerous, that many people will cheat you any chance they get, people stepping over one another trying to get a slice of the good life informed by western standards of wealth. Consumer culture is alive and well here.

September 4th, 2011

It’s the first time I walk home from work. I’m wearing a gold chain that I think is hardly visible. A man on a motorbike turns slowly toward me, looks me in the eyes, and almost succeeds in taking it from me.

now:

S:………………

S: Yohanna Baez (a Dominican  from L.A.) somehow reads my blog post and writes encouraging me to try to do something in Santo Domingo regardless of the  difficulties.  She gives me a few links to young contemporary artists working in the city, one of who is Johan Mijail Castillo Guillen, a poet.

J and S at a cafe in La Zona Colonial January 4, 2011

(video clip from 1:57 till 6:37)

August 30, 2011

The way they are…….

S: I arrive in Miami and head to my gate and I’m struck when I see 10 young Dominican men who look like they might be clones of each other. They all have the same exact hair cut. Perfectly defined curly hair kept in a short afro with side burns that come down like  arrows directing you to the dead end of their chins. They are talking and laughing loudly. I’m losing my patience and starting to get annoyed by the noise. We are waiting and waiting to board when finally we receive some information. “Sorry for the delay ladies and gentlemen, but we are currently waiting for two more flight attendants to arrive.” Really do they have to be late, why does it always seem that when I fly to Santo Domingo we are always late! The naive romanticism that I had felt the last time I flew in December dissipating quickly every minute we are waiting. I hear an American guy retort “that’s typical” I give him a dirty look; he’s  been caught. And then I begin to judge myself , for the same phrase has been racing through my head.

(Play audio track number 2)

July 2011

S: Johan’s now in Berlin…………

J: …. It is a strange place for him. Johan has his first contact with an international art scene. He is tired from the long flight and the layover in Paris, but immediately he goes to a festival of performance and feels that he is living a dream. It is a new world for him.

(Play audio track number 3)

February 2011

J: The Cultural Institute Dominico-Americano confirms that they would like the workshop Guide to Kinship and Maybe Magic.

S: 5, 6, 7, 8

September 9th: Johan

J: Coordinating the body and mind, has been the task. How is it possible to achieve a degree of coherence between what we think and what we do? On the other hand, playing with projections and construction of place, but contrary to the exercises of the body, trying to create visual thoughts on what we understand to be Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and how it may be perceived overseas. We’ve all worked together, trying to get the magic of kinship through action. Is there magic?, hopefully….

S:the last time I was in Santo Domingo….

was the first time I’d seen so many luxury SUVs on the same roads as cars that had newspapers to replace windows in order to  protect passengers from either the hot sun or the heavy rains.

December 30, 2010.

S: Still trying to adjust to the different pockets of inhabited spaces, trying to immerse myself in a language that I’ve mostly forgotten. Trying hard not to feel like a tourist constantly exotifying the other.

August 30, 2011

The way they are…….

S: I finally get on the flight, look for my seat and find a man sitting in it. I look at him and he gestures to the seat  “is this yours”, I nod yes, he points to the seat next to him and gestures if i would like to sit in the middle seat. I nod no. He then moves over and allows me to sit next to the window. Right before take off we begin to chat. He starts speaking to me in Spanish and right away he recognizes that I’m not fluent. I’m tired and don’t feel really feel like talking but he is persistent and at a certain point I get into it, especially when he begins to describe how important it is for him to go as much as possible to the DR. He has been living in NYC for the last two years and just earns money in order to visit. As he continues talking he gets tears in his eyes, he’ll only stay this time for three days, and can’t wait to return.

It strikes me how many Dominican’s I’ve spoken to who have this strong sense of longing and belonging. This small island with all its faults is still a place many of us want to return to. Why is that? what is calling us, home?

Currently:

I’m looking for a way of packaging this entire experience. Looking perhaps fleetingly for a universal element of this story. How can so much subjective content ever find its appropriate form?

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