Farah Saleh: What My Body Can/t Remember
- Claire Sawers
- 26 February 2019
Powerful work in progress show by the Palestinian dancer and choreographer
Tonight's performance in the Fruitmarket Gallery is the first of ten dates for Edinburgh based choreographer/dancer Farah Saleh, who's about to go on tour around Scotland and Europe, exploring refugee stories. What My Body Can/t Remember is Saleh's way of processing her experiences both as an artist who lived under curfew in Palestine, but also as a human; someone who sleeps, eats, dances and lives in a body.
Saleh is an associate artist at Dance Base. Before moving to Edinburgh, she worked internationally and helped set up the Sareyyet Ramallah Dance Summer School in the West Bank. Tonight's work in progress show is part of her ongoing Archive of Gestures project, based on her notion that our bodies are living archives. It is part of a collaboration with filmmaker Owa Barua who weaves around her body and the crowd, recording movements and close up reactions live and screening them on the gallery wall. If this feels intrusive for some, when for example a woman is visibly moved by the interactive show, and her wet eyes are projected on the wall for all to see, Farah is careful to delete the video files at the end by dragging and dumping them live into the bin on the blown up desktop; a reminder that you'll just have to remember what happened. Saleh moves around the white space of the gallery, slowly and deliberately. First she's lying still on the floor under a blanket, then she's scribbling Arabic messages with her left hand and shovelling imaginary food into her mouth with her right.
After unleashing a fast burst of loose, rubbery dance, presumably something she did when her dance practise was confined to her home space for several years, she invites the audience to close their eyes (which is super embarrassing for some, but that's part of it too). She asks them to summon up 'a precious memory', then match it with a physical action. It's a gently powerful multimedia experiment into body language, inhibitions, emotions, immaterial treasures but also, you can't help but feel, the things that can't be snatched away by the state.
Reviewed at The Fruitmarket, Fri 22 Feb.