PerformLab interview with Khadija El Kharraz Alami

From May 29 to June 6, the first edition of PerformLab takes place in Beykoz Kundura in Istanbul. PerformLab is an international and interdisciplinary program of Kundura Stage, in which new generation theater makers work on new concepts and can enrich their working methods in practice. As a collaboration partner, Productiehuis Theater Rotterdam has invited four theater makers to participate in this exchange program. These are Cherish Menzo, Benjamin Kahn, Khadija El Kharraz Alami and Samara Hersch. Before the workshops started, the makers were interviewed by Art Unlimited. The first interview is with Khadija El Kharraz Alami.

© Benny Stroet

1. What is the essence of performance in your opinion? 
Evoking, manifesting, attempting to transcend pre-conceived ideas and to encounter the unknown.

2. How do you define contemporary performance?
A continuous search in how the conflict of different times can be fertile.

3. Do you believe in the transformative power of art? How? 
My experience with the transformative power of art is; it created a public safe space, ‘a society’, where intuition is followed and perspectives questioned in uncensored ways. Very much aware that this is not evident everywhere in the world. 

4. How do you think that this pandemic which humanity is facing at a global scale today will transform performing arts in the future?   
I believe the pandemic forced us to question the vulnerability of the performing arts and how we should integrate, slowly but surely, a sustainable way of creating sharing and performing. 
5. As a performance-maker how are you personally dealing with the challenging conditions posed by the pandemic? How did having to comply with the constraints imposed by COVID-19 in the creation process sparked your creativity?
For me personally I was already in a pre-research fase so it felt like I gained more time and space to dive in the content and articulate the attempt. It’s challenging in the sense that the time we live in, in relation to my work, is of course influenced by the constraints. I was able to organise small encounters, one on one sessions with others, so my practice was able to continu. As an artist living in a wealthy country, I do have acces to certain facilities and financial support that makes it much more easy to continu the work, in that sense, I am privilege to do so. 

6. Are there any artist whom you can describe as "my master", or any person whom you think influenced your art the most? And if yes, who?
My masters are those who move off the untrodden path and carry research and experiment as a higher good in their work. Artists whose research remains visible in the work. People who are more unconventional. Artists who are courageous in subject matter, action and form.

7. When you are working on a piece, what sources inspire you? Do dreams play a role in your works?  
Live, nature, intuition, female perspectives, queer, love and the unknown inspires me. Desires and dreams play a role as a motivating energy to research and create.

8. When do you decide to give a title to a work you are working on if it already does not have one? 
Most of the time it sticks in my head as a mantra. Can be a sentence, a question or an act.

9. What new perspectives do you think interdisciplinary production in arts provide to artists?
It provides for artists to stay curious and to broader perspectives on the meaning of craftsmanship. 

10. What in particular (which performance, process, etc.) will you be sharing with the participants of PerformLab?
An attempt to Re-claim Space, mentally and physically and how our first encounter can provide to share, exchange, conflict and transcend the attempt within the unknown.

11.  What do you imagine that you will be taking back with you after your experience in Istanbul attending PerformLab?