By SARIA IDANA, a theater, literary, and music artist, committed to freedom of expression as a means to develop action connection and intimacy. Her work focuses on personal and global struggle in conjunction with human resiliency. She is a Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts MFA student.
Saria Idana will be performing her solo show HOMELESS IN HOMELAND on March 1-3 at La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley, Calif.
In a previous blog titled "A Recipe for Art that Moves," I discussed catharsis and my belief that it is a necessary ingredient for making affective art, “art that moves." Both mentors and colleagues asked me to articulate my relationship with catharsis in my own work. Without declaring myself “a good artist who makes art that moves," I will share how I have approached and experienced catharsis in my multidisciplinary body of work called HOMELESS IN HOMELAND and how it has affected audiences.
Catharsis is present in this body of work in three ways; firstly, for me personally; secondly, for me as an artist learning how my different art forms relate to each other; and thirdly, catharsis lives within the structure of the material. These three things together have allowed audience members to experience catharsis of their own. In this first blog I will discuss how I have been personal changed. In the second I will discuss my artistic discoveries and how I have been changed as an artist. In the last I will address the cathartic structure of the material and how audiences have been affected.
A brief reminder: Catharsis is commonly defined as a mental, emotional, or spiritual purification through an intense experience. In art this is achieved by giving audience members an engaged experience that offers new perspective. Often it is achieved by triggering an emotion either through memory or aesthetic context. Human beings’ relationship to catharsis is dynamic and ever changing, as Augusto Boal outlined in his book "Theater of the Oppressed." I have come to think of catharsis as an experience that changes or deepens one’s perspective.
Personally, I was changed through creating HOMELESS IN HOMELAND. I did not conceive of the project so much as I was compelled to write, move, and sing as a way to personally process after my first trip to Israel-Palestine in 2007. After a year I realized I was making an interdisciplinary body of work that eventually took form between 2009 and 2011. The material focuses on Jewish-American identity, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the human desire for a place of belonging, of home. It is comprised of a solo show, a manuscript of writings including the play script and related poems, and a spoken word album that will be released later this year. The material has taken many forms as a result of my multi-disciplined process, but also because I believe these themes are ripe and relevant for the times and wish to reach many different kinds of art going audiences.
My catharsis has been a journey, both a physically to the region and metaphorically through self-investigation, research and creative process. The first layer of the metaphorical journey was to understand the complexities of my identity as a pale Ashkenazi Jewish American who clothes herself in the multi-cultural fabric of urban America. More specifically, it has been to understand how I, and my identity, relate to justice movements nationally and globally, particularly in Palestinian-Israeli. To most non-Jewish (and sometimes also Jewish) eyes, my identity is irrevocably tied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Having first hand experience in the region coupled with an arts practice, has given me a stronger, although sometimes even more conflicted, understanding of the situation and what my stance is on it. I have developed more capacity to understand peoples’ relationship to that place; Jewish, Palestinian, Muslim, Christian, and other. I have a more intimate knowledge of the history of the creation of the State of Israel and how that has impacted the existence of Palestine and her people as well as Jewish communities in Israel and the Diaspora. I have come to better understand how identity, history and politics affect my romantic and sexual relationships, and how such relationships connect to place, culture and land. Who I am and how I relate to the world has come into a more defined state of being.
The catharsis has been the shedding of misconceptions about the region and my judgments of different groups, including of myself. But as catharsis is dynamic, it is still very much in process and I am still being moved.