“Unveiling Veiling” is a process that engages in conceptual methods and variables as a mode of exploring orientations of concealing and revealing translated text and body into performance. Through repurposing text and audio from previous documentation and remnants of clothes, the work pieces together dislocated histories and focuses on the ways in which absence and margins open up spaces of possibility.
The curators of What Might Be Left to Say, Alicia DeBrincat and Patrick Templeton, asked us to create performances in response to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, for an evening of rooftop performances celebrating Howl’s 60th anniversary.
Thus, I asked friends who had lived in New York for varying lengths of time to make a new text from Howl by selectively blocking out words in black and opening up space for mistranslations and new ways of reading. I then created a composite text around the absences and used this as source material for the performance.
Ryan created a veil from leftover designer materials. I wore his base muslin copy and a pair of ‘90s vintage Prada shoes I had partly dismantled. I re-mixed diegetic audio from previous documentation footage while keeping the text of Howl in mind. Accompanied by this sound, I stood at the edge of the roof and slowly moved backwards as the sun went down. As I moved backwards I continually pulled on the muslin veil to eventually reveal a small pouch that contained seven handfuls of black rice and rose petals that I cut open and released.
This performance honored all those who had left New York, those who had to leave because there were no jobs or visas, those who no longer have as active a creative practice due to the fact that they’re overworked, those who stayed, and those who have yet to come.
In the memory of Shaimaa El-Sabbagh.