Eleni Kamma, Casting Call: Episode I, 2019. Film still by Vincent Pinckaers
A research project by Eleni Kamma
Casting Call is an investigation into Europe featuring a parade of cultural allegories through the locations that shape its present identity: Athens, Maastricht, and notably its de facto capital, Brussels. Referring both to local art history and to a rapidly pervading social media culture, the allegorical personifications that form the parading core of Kamma’s research are characters that discuss the plurality of European culture. These characters affect the performers’ as well as the audience’s and bystanders’ agency to speak their minds freely, out of the box, courageously and playfully: the classic Greek parrhesia as Kamma extrapolates it to our present context.
The characters of the parade reflect upon the history of parrhesiastic theatre and look forward, towards a future agonistic public space: a space for interaction, confrontation and exchange. Each of them is an assemblage with geographically embedded references and gestures that embody comical traditions and mirror the European diversity. They use different languages, symbols and gestures to parrhesiastic ends: how to enter in dialogue with the other? Together, they form, at the same time, an urban scenography in movement, and a poetical allegory on Europe. The performers share one common language (English), but not the same cultures (e.g. Belgian, Dutch, German-Iranian).
Central to Casting Call are seven community-related concepts that create disagreement: Democracy, Prosperity, Solidarity, Europe, Languages, Migration, Pluralism. Kamma borrowed these from BELvue Museum, which uses them to reflect on Belgium and Belgian society. The artist commissioned three screenwriters to write sketches regarding these concepts in their native languages.
Just like allegories are metaphorical structures where the singular meets the universal, parades are social occasions where the subjective individual meets the unifying collective. The spontaneity that characterizes the freedom of these festive, almost pan-emotional events is enveloped by an organizing element of theatricality, of staging. A parade is a moving collection of units temporarily connected in an infinite loop: as a moebius ring both inside and outside of a group, and inside and outside of a larger social context. When people step inside a parade and contexts collide, the potential of the parade as a locus for exchange becomes all the more apparent.
Casting Call is a project in development, and already had the following public moments:
Artist talk at Nieuwe Vide, Haarlem (2019)
Re-M-Ommegang, a performance at Museum M, Leuven, part of Playground Festival (2018)
Punch Line (Language), a performance at 'How do we establish, sustain and nourish a vital research culture in the arts?', artistic research conference-festival of the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (2018)
The Selfie-Junkie, The Fool, The Animal, The Glossary, The Angry, The Collector Of Proverbs, and so on, a solo exhibition at Académie royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Brussels (2018)
Casting Call is supported by Mondriaan Fund, VAF Filmlab (development), Beursschouwburg, nadine/Wandering Arts Biennial, M-Museum Leuven, Provincie Limburg (The Netherlands), and Grensverleggers/deBuren
Eleni Kamma, The Disguised, 2018
Eleni Kamma, Casting Call. Clip #1, The Angry, 2018, HD video, single channel, colour, sound. Image: Boris van Hoof
Eleni Kamma, Casting Call. Clip #9, The Glossary of Parrhesiastic Words, 2018, HD video, single channel, colour, sound. Image: Boris van Hoof. Performers Sahra Huby and Jessica Van Rüschen.