How does one root in places in which one doesn’t visibly belong? And what does it mean when one can? What is it that can connect one to the sound of a language one has never spoken? What if revolution is one of those languages never heard, never iterated, yet understood? Asking these questions, Hong-Kai Wang plays with various frequencies in the world that connect humans not only to other humans but to the land and other living beings across time. Hazzeh was originally commissioned by MMAG Foundation in Amman to explore the sounds of the Palestinian landscape that are described vividly and poetically by Jean Genet in Prisoner of Love (1986). Genet was in Jordan and Lebanon at a very critical point for the region, and his movements “had something like the effect of a seismographic reading, drawing and exposing the fault lines that a largely normal surface had hidden,” in the words of Edward Said. In Arabic, hazzeh means shaking or quivering, also referring to an earthquake. Here, the metaphor powerfully contextualizes the region’s tumultuous conflicts, the land that tectonically cracks and quivers under the heaviness of history. Wang employs a Palestinian, nearly forgotten, banned oral lament tradition, Nuwah, to get in touch with Genet’s seismographic way of understanding the Jordanian landscape. She collaborated with young Palestinian and Jordanian women who had only heard Nuwah sung by their elders. In an open rehearsal form, they sang and mourned together to cracks in different sites in northern Jordan and Palestine. They collectively created; they listened to the frequency of the response that echoed back from the land. Hazzeh is a sensual environment weaved of such a condensed act of asking, honoring, grieving, and listening—an attempt to communicate with a history that is cut away from the world.
Hong-Kai Wang (1971) was born in Yunlin and lives and works in Taipei.
Supported by National Culture and Arts Foundation in Taiwan
Text by Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu
Photo credits Tuğhan Anıt