Nov 28 - Dec 4, 2016
Boris Yeltsin Center, Ekaterinburg, RU
Sponsored by the US Consulate, Ekaterinburg
In English the word machination means: a scheming or crafty action or artful design intended to accomplish some usually evil end. Rachel Owens’ project at the Yeltsin Center takes this meaning and gives it a twist. Her exhibition includes the video Synching as well as a workshop that culminated in a public performance.
Syncing, a single channel color video with sound continues a series of works inspired by Augusto Boal, presenting a video installation using the techniques of the "Theater of the Oppressed." Individuals from Owens’ community in Brooklyn, perform a movement exercise called “Emily's Morph," attempting to achieve unity without traditional communication (including speech nor direct eye contact). The diverse group, which is reflective of the larger community, move forward together struggling to reach a common end. This game is both a consensus building exercise and an inquiry into power relations between the participants and the larger groups they represent. In an international setting it is effective, the common languages being movement and abstract sound.
Working with community members from Yekaterinburg, a 2-day workshop was held exploring more games from Boal's book Games for Actors and Non-Actors. These activities attempt to deconstruct power hierarchies within communities and create an understanding of systemic oppressions existing in larger groups as well as individuals.
The workshop resulted in a public performance which included its audience. Along with other actions, workshop participants led the formation of "A Machine," many of the viewers join and also become performers. The exercises used in Synching as well as the ones workshop participants perform, all attempt to deconstruct preconceived notions of power and hierarchy. These notions are both internal as well as external to the individuals, group, and social structure as a whole. Boal believed culture could be used as a weapon in order to lift people up, this is our machination.