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2014-09-22

echoes _ Hillel Kogan: We love Arabs by Zita Sándor

Do you know “the other”? 

Adi and Hillel photo: www.rolandszabo.cz
I believe that Hillel Kogan kind of does. He has an interesting and reflective relationship towards “the other” and he is able to put it in a well-thought-out, brilliant shape. In his piece, We love Arabs he is talking about Jews and Arabs, two nations cohabiting in Israel. He talks about this coexistence which is with and at the same time without cooperation, about this politically and socially challenging situation. Being Israeli, having “a Middle East problem” he is using a Western type problem solving method, so to say, a westernized conflict analyzing system: he is making a choreography involving the representatives of both sides, the performers are presenting and questioning common places, evoking some problematic points which can appear in their cohabitation and they express themselves with the help of some objects which are used as symbols. This is how we imagine a piece talking about problems. 
Hillel Kogan goes further, he digs much deeper. He shows how impossible it is to talk about this coexistence. We got a strong impression about a problem-solving and problem-showing attitude lead by one side: the Israeli is commanding an Arab, the Israeli is constructing a quite well organized piece with an Arab “partner”. The other side has nothing to do, nothing to say, only filling out the form (invented by the Israeli) with his presence and body. While Hillel is endlessly talking about his ideas and the structure of the piece, the symbols and their meanings, Adi is staying silent, sometimes he can give short answers to questions, or smile, if he whishes (but this already stops the fluidity, the choreograph doesn’t have time to deal with it – although the possibility is given, Adi can laugh, for a minute, for a short break). The way of the representation of the power, the unbalanced relationship makes us realize that even though there is a cooperation, there is always one side which is the “victim”, which is only a guest in that common work. Using the cultural codes of one nation (such as the Jewish symbols or Western codes of choreography, for example) the codes of the other side disappear, stays ununderstandable or just became ignored. This is a sad truth for every kind of cooperation, this is why this piece turns to be sad and bitter. I was enjoying the caricatured figure of the choreographer, I was enjoying the ironic and funny scenes, the jokes, the symbol-making process and the over-explanative attitude, but despite of the laughter I still say, it is immensely sad and bitter piece. It makes me realize that patterns I know maybe not working, cultural difference is not disappearing even thought the two sides are standing tightly next to each other. Maybe, there are no answers for important questions. A cathartic experience. 

Sándor Zita - KÖM

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