Mayar Alexan: Next To The Aquarium

‘Aeroponic’ – root systems nourished by air – Acts is the name given to the nomadic Dutch Art Institute’s final & festive iteration of the two year long so-called Kitchen* trajectory. Aeroponic Acts are conversations-in-a-form. Each presenter addresses one question as a practice of engagement.

Here you will find the documentation of Mayar Alexan's presentation as filmed by Baha Görkem Yalım, followed  by a written report, authored by Harun Morrison, which includes a summary of the spoken comments by esteemed guest respondents Barby Asante, Lisette Lagnado and Momtaza Mehri. 

Next To The Aquarium

Mayar's question: Did You Get Wet? 

Mayar's introduction: Would you like to take a journey to the far mysterious seabeds without getting wet? This performative installation invites us to question the act of ownership, the desire to consume everything that can be consumed, and sheds light on the fetish and exoticism that are projected on the Arabic theater performances that take place in Europe.

Harun's report: The presentation took the form of a walk through an installation in the semi-dark, for 5 people at a time. It included an illuminated glass of water. This was accompanied by a soundscape made from field recordings from different cities, languages, narratives, and generated from different sources. These were mixed to evoke the tangle of bodies we see later. There was also a tank with golden ribbons,  filled with projected bodies. The second room featured a video of writhing animated versions of the artist’s body, sometimes clustered like a knot or bundle, sometimes spaced like insects in a petri dish. While the title suggests a play on words that suggests arousal, the multiple self-representations digitally (and in water), also speak of reflections, self-reflection and possibly another question as to what we look for in our own reflections?

Momtaza Mehri: I enjoyed the sensory experience. I was looking at the description beforehand and looking at the work in relation to Arabic Theatre performances, and the influence of the likes on Yusuf Idris on experimental practices. I’ve been watching a lot of Kuwaiti Theatre from the 1970s. How do you find subversion in something incredibly mainstream? I was watching the film Bye Bye London (1981) a satirical film about a wealthy Kuwaiti businessman travelling to London. / I’m intrigued by the positionality of figures who move between super populist and peripheries, pointing to multiple histories. 

Let’s think about how borders cross people. How the discussions in this work are background conversations. That came across well. It captures the mundane violence of a situation. While pouring the water in the tank made me think of a state within a state. From libations to the sea, the sea is a space of rupture, as we learn through Caribbean philosophy.

Maybe I was seeing water in the movement in the water? Literally and metaphorically wash over you. 

Barby Asante: I felt like I didn’t have enough time in here. I wasn’t sure of the significance of oats. This image of a meshed, entangled body and the soundtrack was another welcome layer. Made me think of street theatre, how representation takes presence on the street. The image reminded me of a virus under a microscope. However I couldn’t connect this with the text, was the wetness associated with some form of eroticism?

Lisette Lagnado: I don’t have enough material to give proper feedback. In response to your question I considered it a work on responsibility, on ethical choices. There was also the subject of narcissism, in the multiplicity of yourselves. I felt you wanted a narration that wasn’t quite there. . . i.e you build a tour, but it's missing an intention. My question back; did you get wet?


Mayar Alexan's "Next To The Aquarium" was presented before live audience at the Posttheater in Arnhem on August 26th.

Find the overview of all 24 AEROPONIC ACTS 2021 here: UNDERSTORY CHANT

About Mayar Alexan