collaboration with Arzu Ozkal
The audio-video project “SRS (Silk Road Songbook)” is an interdisciplinary artwork that weaves multilingual songs into the land, broadcasting distinct voices on an ancient Eurasian migration route, while challenging Orientalist exoticism, cultural tourism, and censorship. The songs are generated with collaborators in communities along the route. For each place, women’s voices are the dynamic driving force, the land the visual anchor.
SRS will consist of the following: an immersive audio-video installation; a single-channel video; a song album; a ‘songbook’ publication.
Songs enable us to mourn, dissent, and declare, turning sorrow and outrage into hope, fortitude, and joy. Songs about land, sovereignty, and cultural identity are created in collaboration with artists living in and between Istanbul, Tehran, Tashkent, Bishkek and Xi’an.
We challenge the grand “Silk Road” narrative by conveying individual SRS stories. Cultural exchange on the ancient routes was mainly propelled by migrants and refugees. Our stories reveal what we left behind, what we rebuild. It is through collaboration with others that we tell not only their stories but our own. Harnessing our respective ancestries and migration stories to geographically tether SRS, we trace a narrative thread that is historically and politically significant, and personally meaningful.
From Fall 2017 to Winter 2018, we made research trips to Xi’an, Dunhuang, Hami, Urumqi, Kashgar, Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Tehran, Kashan, Abyaneh, Isfahan, Ankara, Bursa, Istanbul; since 2016, we have conducted numerous research workshops (in Turkey, Uzbekistan, China, Canada, and the U.S.) related to the project. We have completed the video and audio recordings for 4 of the 5 SRS locations, recently mounted 2 work-in-progress exhibitions in Xi’an and Vancouver (here is a review of one of the exhibitions), and are currently working on the 5th recording with a Bishkek-based group at Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan. Research, development and production for SRS (Silk Road Songbook) have been supported by numerous organizations and individuals, listed here: https://www.silkroadsongbook.com/about.