Room for Big Ideas: The Chasm Arena

When 20 Mar 2014
4:00PM - 8:00PM
Where Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission St
San Francisco 94103
United States
Enquiry (415) 978-2787

Public Reception: Friday, January 24, 6-9pm
Interactive Presentations & Conversations with Artists: Thursday, March 20, 4-8pm

The transition into the 21st century has been marked by the rise of ubiquitous connectivity. The proliferation of new technologies and networks has enabled millions to create a series of new experiences mediated online but often coupled with physical, real world manifestations. In 2011, the Arab Spring movement illustrated the impact this 24/7 connectivity could deliver, toppling structures and institutions that had existed for decades. The Chasm Arena, featuring multi-media works by Zeina Barakeh with Michal Gavish, Cece Carpio, Cybele Lyle, and Dennis Kim with Michelle Lee, explores the dynamics of some of the longest lived conflicts and the fissures that continue to divide us geographically and psychologically, revealing the cracks and openings that shift existing structures.

Zeina Barakeh and Michal Gavish are Lebanese-Palestinian and Israeli, respectively. The two met in San Francisco and began conversations about Jaffa, from where Zeina’s family originated before the establishment of the Israeli State in 1948, and near where Michal grew up. They began exploring the possibilities of bringing together two personal yet political narratives about Jaffa, narratives that kept colliding because of the larger unresolved and ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Their work investigates two very personal, loaded, yet antagonistic stories of exile. It does not necessarily produce solutions, but is a closer examination into the process of conflict-resolution informed by their histories.

Cece Carpio’s work is inspired by the history of the minority Muslims of Mindanao and Sulu in the Philippines, where Muslims make up over 20% of the population. For centuries, they have fought colonial rulers and continue to demand autonomy from Manila in a conflict that has killed 120,000 people—primarily civilians. Forty years of peace talks have failed to end this regional war between northern Manila and southern Mindanao where Muslims seek to create a separate homeland. Carpio has created a structure consisting of six main characters with their faces left blank: a Muslim, a Catholic, an economist, a guerrilla fighter, a government soldier, and a civilian. The audience is invited to step into the structure and imagine themselves as any or all of these archetypes in this conflict.

Dennis Kim and Michelle Lee will program a multimedia installation called Other Side Sound Light. Combining an original music score and mixed media, the installation examines the impact a war that divided an ancient people and nation in 1953 and separated families in the name of a negotiated truce. The Korean War’s echoes continue to reverberate in modern day geopolitical divides and policies and raises the specter of conflict with no possible resolution short of mass destruction. Yet the connections between North and South are palpable and alive for the millions of separate families.

Cybele Lyle’s Mission Street Projection Falling Sideways looks at openings in spaces and inverting of interior and exterior spaces through expanding and interchanging the visual languages of architecture and nature. It is exploring how we break open and shift existing structures.

Photo courtesy of the organiser/s

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