He Almost Forgets That There is a Maker of the World

“He Almost Forgets That There is a Maker of the World.” Illuminated video by Ben Spatz with Nazlihan Eda Ercin, Caroline Gatt, and Agnieszka Mendel. Journal of Embodied Research 4.2, special issue of illuminated videos (2021): 32 minutes. http://doi.org/10.16995/jer.71

What can jewishness be — a nation, a race, a religion, a style of humor? A history of diaspora? A relation to whiteness? A commandment to work for justice? Where is jewishness in the body? In this illuminated video essay, 30 minutes of uncut experimental songwork practice are augmented by 50 annotations or “illuminations.” These are embedded into the video, as they would more commonly be embedded in prose, providing a dense critical context for what unfolds. A handful of songs provide the spine of the work, while four carefully selected books stud the flow of song and evoke the elusive potential of a jewishness to come: antique, mystical, anticolonial, renewed. The four practitioner-researchers draw on their shared backgrounds in laboratory theatre to explore these materials in a dynamic flow of action and interaction. The uncut video grounds the viewer in the temporality of the practice and demands a close reading of the documented moment. The annotations enhance, clarify, and in some cases critique or interrogate the embodied research, offering a layer of commentary as a contemporary riff on talmudic ways of thinking. “He Almost Forgets…” was created through a new audiovisual embodied laboratory research method (Spatz 2020). It demonstrates the capacity of artistic research to generate new molecular identities and alternative forms of knowledge.