2022–2023 Roulette Resident Artist Muyassar Kurdi’s Where My Olive Trees Grow (in four movements) is a ritualistic interdisciplinary work that honors the ancestors through an exploration into free sound and deep listening. Large scale oil paintings act as graphic scores for the musicians who embody a world beyond borders and walls. These abstract paintings represent landscapes in Palestine where olive trees grow and the indigenous thrive in abundance. As an act of protest and empowerment, Where My Olive Trees Grow lives in color, embodiment, memory, and healing while meditating on issues of displacement and colonialism.
In conversation with Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and his ruminations on visible music and musical gardens, this work offers visual poetry to those who have been silenced.
Muyassar Kurdi: electronics, voice
Ben LaMar Gay: cornet, voice
Lester St. Louis: cello, electronics
When I listen to music gardens open out around me, and the melody becomes a flower I hear with my eyes. Sound has an image, and this image has a sound, which slowly gathers momentum like waves, more far-reaching than a literary metaphor. Carnations leave their flower beds and are distributed on the tables of high-class restaurants to compensate a stranger for some forgotten loss, or make a diner waiting for his companion better prepared to face the uncertainties of their encounter. Nobody stops the narcissus listening for hours to a song of joy in the water and believing it is a song of praise. When white lilies fill a room with their huge, pungent scent, I am confused by my thoughts about them, the opposite of violets, which make me pause where two sounds intersect and dissolve, indistinguishable as the tears shed at weddings and funerals, and the opposite of anemones, which are content with a song on the broad margins, a pastorale on the low mountain slopes. All of this is so I can say: the red rose is visible music, and jasmine is a message of longing from nobody to nobody.
“Visible Music” by Mahmoud Darwish, in A River Dies of Thirst
translated by Catherine Cobham
A livestream will be available free of charge at 8pm on the day of the performance and archived for future viewing. Watch below or on YouTube.