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Hosting the lament(s) of Others? Tensions and antinomies in Dries Verhoeven’s No Man’s Land

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No Man’s Land was a peripatetic performance produced in Athens by the Onassis Cultural Center (2014) and previously presented in several European cities. According to its director Dries Verhoeven, the piece sought to explore ‘what is a multicultural environment today’ by staging one-to-one encounters, where (ostensibly local) spectators were guided by performers (migrants, refugees or asylum seekers) through the city while listening to a story of forced displacement and exile. Drawing on a corpus of semi-structured interviews with the Athens-based performers, this article examines the performers’ own conceptions and experiences of this institutional attempt to ‘host’ the laments of Others, as ‘both a performance and a political act’ (Anon. 2014b). Participants’ narratives are studied in connection to the representational strategies of the performance, in an attempt to unpack interrelations between these theatrical walks and everyday experiences of discrimination in the Athenian urban fabric. In doing so, the article reveals a larger field of tensions and antinomies between representations and presences, vocalizations and silences, languages of the Other and mother tongues, art and ‘life’.
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Keywords: displacement; hospitality; hostility; lament; mother tongue; performance; racism; suffering

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Aberystwyth

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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  • The Journal of Greek Media & Culture is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that aims to provide a platform for debate and exploration of a wide range of manifestations of media and culture in and about Greece. The journal adopts a broad and inclusive approach to media and culture with reference to film, photography, literature, the visual arts, music, theatre, performance, as well as all forms of electronic media and expressions of popular culture. While providing a forum for the close analysis of cultural formations specific to Greece, JGMC aims to engage with broader methodological and theoretical debates, and situate the Greek case in global, diasporic and transnational contexts.
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