Yasmina Reggad : we dreamt of utopia and we woke up screaming
In the fashion of a radio series, two performative works form the first two episodes of we dreamt of utopia and we woke up screaming. A broadcasting company at times, and a foreign broadcast monitoring centre at others, they explore new ways of 'exhibiting' and activating a unique and little-known archive of a time when Algiers was dubbed the 'Mecca of Revolution'.En savoir plus
Against the backdrop of the Cold War's bi-polar tensions during the 1960s and 1970s, militants from all the continents convened in Algiers and witnessed a forging of a 'third way', other possible futures. The Algerian capital hosted everyone from national liberation movements, political exiles, rebels and disillusioned Westerners. Drawing on the liberation movements' broadcasts aired by the Algerian national broadcasting company (RTA), the polyglot and polyphonic productions echo Yasmina Reggad's journey through the worlds of ideas and ideals of that transformative period.
Initiated back in 2016, the long-term research named after Roberto Bolaño's 'First Infrarealist Manifesto', we dreamt of utopia and we woke up screaming continuously takes on different forms and develops further with each episode.
By either immersing themselves within a live radio documentary show, or by activating a performative installation, the audience bares witness to the processes of conception, production and broadcasting of two carefully scripted works. The audience becomes both the contemporary listener and broadcaster. They carry the voices of past struggles and avant-garde propositions. In this way, they are invited to re-enact the solidarity with and between otherwise invisible actors of global history.
The performance Episode 1. La radio des images qui s'écoutent is inspired by the radio and documentary theatre genres. Spanning across all continents and several languages, a diverse corpus of both audio-visual and documentary archive elements and contemporary documents intertwine with testimonies by key actors and militant voices of the 1960s and 1970s. The performance provokes an encounter between voices of the past, Frantz Fanon, Houari Boumediene, Sam Nujoma, María Acerina, Elaine Mokhtefi, Antonio Cubillo, Vera Sílvia Araújo de Magalhães, Manuel Alegre or Yasser Arafat, and the voices of the present: a solidarity choir composed of today's activists. Through the unfolding of the carefully crafted acoustic and dramatised script, the audience is led into an active form of listening constantly brought back to present and current events by the voice of the main commentator, Yasmina Reggad.
The performative installation Episode 2. From Dreamers to Freedom Fighters to Terrorists presents different facets of the armed struggle adopted by liberation movements in the 70s, an era characterized by acts of sabotage, bombings, kidnappings and hijackings. The work questions the way these acts are perceived by the historical parties involved at the time they occur, and by the contemporary audience in the present days.
The audience is invited to activate the installation by becoming the radio commentators of a daily live broadcast. By reading a projected script mounted like a 70s militant movies, the audience can re-enact and experience different modalities of political engagement and commitment to solidarity.
The performance Episode 3. Les pays que j'habitent s'étoilent en archipels [The countries that I inhabit spread out like stars, in archipelagos] emerges from the Solidarity Choirs of militant women who lent their voices to historical figures in the first episode of the series La radio des images qui s'écoutent.
Drawing on her ongoing research in the Canary Islands, Yasmina Reggad will form an intergenerational whistling choir at La Gomera island. Collectively, they will compose a manifesto written and performed in Silbo gomero, an ancient Canarian whistling language. The final score of the whistling manifesto will be taught to the Solidarity Choirs of each city the episode will be performed in. The transmission of the resulting manifesto is similar to the way canary birds are taught to sing. Exclusively passed on to militant women, the transmission of the manifest takes on a ritualistic form of struggle following the tradition of (eco)feminism.
This episode unfolds as a constellation or archipelago spanning multiple media. From the dramatised and acoustic writing of Frantz Fanon, Yasmina Reggad moves through the geopoetics of Edouard Glissant. Considering postcolonial critical ecofeminist theories in/and the phonoscene, the performative work engages with and address the history of women's participation in liberation movements. Looking at the El Silbo language as a territory in which a coloniality of power is articulated, the piece also examines the politics of (non-verbal) languages.