Maya Zbib, The Music Box (Beirut, 21/09/08)
Maya’s world is composed of small things. Small boxes, containing small objects. Beads. Wires. Notes. Lamps. Tiny tape recorders, emitting tiny, hazy sounds. Papers. Notes. Words, fragments of sentences.
Maya’s world is made of small things, and she inhabits and populates it beautifully. Her ‘Music Box’ operates on two, inter-mingled levels: the physical and the verbal (or rather, that is what it seemed like to me). The artist enters the room (the performance takes place in various, “friendly” houses around town, quite an interesting idea…) from the side of the audience, and walks carefully towards a set of boxes disposed in the middle of the room. She wanders from one box to the other, turning on tape recorders, removing objects, displacing them, extending wires from one side of the room to the other, dropping the contents of her over-sized pockets to the floor, in calculated, precise gestures…
This is done while delivering a carefully-written text, whose main lines hover between biographical references to the artist’s life (or not?), to members of her family’s (or not?), and general reflections on the themes of woman, family, the house, the home…. The line between what is real and fictional seems blurred, adding in the process to the charm of the proceedings, and lending them a certain, queasy sensation of intruding on someone’s private life/lives.
In addition to her impressive work as a performance/installation artist, Maya is also a seasoned dancer, and manages to introduce on several occasions during ‘Music Box’ dance gestures/moves. These are light and airy, and do not distract from the overall thrust of the performance, although they seem somewhat heavily informed by the work of Belgian “head-mistress/dance maestro” Ann Teresa de Keersmaeker. But then, I could be wrong.
Honorary awards go to the wonderful musical soundtrack, including tracks by Lebanese artist Munma, Japanese and French (respectively) electronicians Susumu Yokota and Colleen, as well as the Kronos Quartet and rockers Electrelane.
[Photo ©Ghadi Smat/grand-ecart.com]