23 November 2023
Time Flows in all Directions
Part of Alserkal Art Week
This performance is a presentation of Bint Mbareh's research into fiction that becomes a reality only through collective belief and vocalisation.
One day during my time as a student of the conservatory of music in Ramallah, Palestine, I was introduced to a song called Shourabanna, which is a word that I did not recognise at the time, and possibly still do not recognise as an Arabic language word. It was a song that Palestinians (likely many others as well) traditionally sang to call for rain. I stepped away from music for years, but returned to complete my master's at Goldsmiths, particularly driven by this song. I did field research to learn more songs in this tradition, if any existed, and they did, but they had not been notated. Despite my master thesis not calling for performance, I felt the only honest way to represent the songs was to sing them.
This performance, at Alserkal Avenue for Art Week, is a presentation of my research into fiction that becomes a reality only through collective belief and vocalisation. Whilst researching the songs, I learned about an unmapped geography of Palestine, dotted with shrines that bring people closer to their worship and imbue the landscape with an invisible but, very audible pantheon of neighbours and ancestors, shrine after shrine in each village. In addition, I learned that time, like water, is a resource that can be collectively framed and invented, and time is determined, often by the precipitation coming from the sky. In this regard, singing for the rain is a way of affirming the collaborative relationship between communities and their environments. Communities ask not only for it to rain, but also for the time of year to change from Summer to Autumn, or; from fig season to olive season. The performance ruminates on the extension and contraction of time as a medium/resource, hand in hand with its people and their water - words from Bint Mbareh.
Bint Mbareh works with all formats of sound (radio, live, installation and many others) and is driven by the superpowers of communal singing human and more than human. She conducted research initially to combat the myth of water scarcity pushed by Israeli settler colonialism. The songs that she learned helped communities summon rain, and at their core helped people build a relationship with their environment, decide what time of year it is, and communally determine how to share resources, mainly the resource of time, fairly. Bint Mbareh makes music and sound today because she believes these uses can still be evoked, rather than remembered. She now studies death and rebirth as analogies for necessary communal upheavals, still looking for these significations in Palestinian landscape, now in the shrine of Nabi-Musa (AS), the prophet Moses. She has been a practising artist since 2018.