Wonderful SMRN Meeting of July 2019
SMRN had another wonderful meeting on July 30 with members joining including Steve Baris, Mansoor Behnam, Carol Bier, Juan Castrillón, Millie Chen, Siying Duan, Farshid Kazemi, Laura Marks and Mahmoud Nuri.
Two of our recently joined members Juan Castrillón and Millie Chen presented their works in progress, both focused on music and song. Juan studies listening and world-making practices among dervishes in Anatolia and Tukanoan shamans in Colombia. In the meeting, he introduced the exhibition he is designing around an important Ney (the reed instrument used in Sufi ceremonies) hidden away in an archive at his university. Juan has played Turkish Ney for 16 years. From his own experience, he feels that it is not he who plays the instrument, but the Ney makes its own sound and sets the emotion with his help. Juan introduced the design and his intention of the exhibition, including his hope to show the instrument as a point in a set of relations among countries and over centuries.
Millie shared her current project “Silk Road Songbook” in collaboration with artist and SMRN member Arzu Ozkal. Their interdisciplinary project integrates songs with landscapes, re-tracing one of the major arteries of the ancient Eurasian trade routes between Istanbul, West and Central Asia, and Xi’an. The creation of grassroots songs will be generated in collaboration with area musicians, artists and scholars in communities along the route, channelling local voices of resiliency and determination. For each place, the voices will be the dynamic driving force, but the land will be the visual and conceptual anchor. The project will result in two interrelated productions: an immersive audio-video installation; and a ‘songbook’ publication that contains the lyrics and notes of the songs, records the journeys, conveys participants’ stories, and critically reflects on the process.
Both of the presentations stimulated enthusiastic feedback and discussion.