Towards a Common Sense

The Solidarity issue, now available at Maakaf's new website, is the culmination of a longer-than-usual maturation process.

Discussion and writing began in 2018, as an independent series of actions and essays, accompanying the 0:7 – Solidarity International Performance Conference of the School of Visual Theatre. At the time, the discussion of solidarity was motivated by a concern for the notions of common and diverse, which were under attack from right and left alike. We seemed to be experiencing the peak of an ethnic, social, gender and economic rift. Living in an environment in which identities were becoming increasingly personal, increasingly distinct. A society in which difference became an imperative and a value. On this background, we wished to re-examine, perhaps even re-connect, to the elusive term "common sense," with its various malfunctions and shortcomings.

Then Covid-19 arrived and swept us into a giant global event, reminding us, for the first time in a long while, that we were all in the same boat. At the same time, it confined each one of us to her or his own room. Bringing the art world in general, and that of performance in particular, to a standstill, it challenged cultural institutions and mechanisms of organization and production. At the same time, both prohibition and longing reminded us once again of the tribal origins of the artistic act. The necessity of assembling, the importance of rites, live music moving an audience, dance generating a crowd. All of these exploded in different manners – private/personal/social – in a colorful performance of protests and manifestations in Israel and abroad. Comments on these processes may be also read in a series of responses to the current state of events, titled Zero Perspective.

Gordon Welters for the New York Times

Covid-19 and its related manifestations, its crucial connection to the political – both in Israel and worldwide – redirected our gaze to the question of solidarity, and to the potential of social/communal organizations, above and beyond any structure and institution, as a liminal model of cooperation. Questions of the kind raised by anthropologist Victor Turner and his communitas, a term used to describe a temporal, liminal, magic community. A performance in which people from the center and extremes intermix, and opposites coexist. "Communitas breaks in through the interstices of structure, in liminality; at the edges of structure, in marginality; and from beneath structure, in inferiority. It is almost everywhere held to be 'sacred' or holy, possibly because it transgresses or dissolves the norms that govern structured and institutionalized relationships and is accompanied by expressions of unprecedented potency."1 A reference to this may be found in Claudia Castellucci's article A Certain Destruction Is Required, which draws a link between place and space, between the personal, the foreign and the neighboring, between holiness and everyday adornments, in an attempt to widen (and wipe) those same "interstices of structures" from whence a community may arise.

In his book Between Man and Man (1947), Martin Buber writes about the community as a happening arising where no other social structure appears: "Community [...] is the being no longer side by side [and one may also add, above and underneath] but with one another of a multitude of persons. […] Community is where community happens." Today, these words are formulated as a question: whether and how can we understand our common existence with one another as a happening? How can we say "us" today (and is that even possible?) This is the Open Question we addressed to Livia Andrea Piazza, Adi Efal-Lautenschläger, Hagit Aldema, and Zohar Weiman-Kelman.

These relations between the common and the minor, of separation and union, are examined from a historical perspective in an essay by Menachem Goldenberg, I Miss You My Friend. The essay suggests an understanding of friendship as a value that has developed in the early days of Humanism, as opposed to love, and as a historical relation shaped by confronting tradition. As a value – as a form of relation – friendship is suggested as the "basic unit" of solidarity, and of the creative action directed at a common future.

More in this issue: The Last Free Space, Mai Zarhi’s interview with Pablo Gisbert, a co-founder of the El Conde de Torrefiel band, about the consumeristic-economic aspects of social solidarity, as well as about social, cultural, and political relations/tensions (the phenomenon of refugees and migrant workers), which are at the focus of their most recent work, La Plaza, and their work in general. In their conversation, they refer to the group's work, the performance, and to life itself as spaces of collaboration. The interview is supplemented by a translated excerpt from Pablo's text screened during the work.

Questions regarding the relations forming between the artist/s, performer/s, and the audience are also answered in the Dance in the Fourth Dimension manifesto, in which Guy Gutman challenges the current discourse in dance, the categories and distinctions through which it understands itself and its relation to the audience. "Dance in the Fourth Dimension does not allow separation between artist and audience, or between choreographer and choreography and dancers and masses."

The Solidarity issue of Maakaf is a journey between extremities, oppositions, and struggles. Between actions of union and voices of constructive separation. The current issue's contributors come from very distinct environments and geographies. Perhaps precisely in this very moment of suspense, anticipating an unknown future, sometimes mysterious, sometimes too obvious, we can rethink (or re-challenge) our togetherness.

December, 2019

1 Victor Turner, "Liminality and Communitas", in The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Chicago: Aldine Publishing, 1969).