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Wed, 25 Oct



Performers(') Present International Artistic Research Symposium (Singapore)


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Performers(') Present International Artistic Research Symposium (Singapore)
Performers(') Present International Artistic Research Symposium (Singapore)

Time & Location

25 Oct, 09:00 – 28 Oct, 22:00

Singapore, 3 Conservatory Drive, Singapore 117376

About The Event

Olga Stezhko will give a presentation on the topic of nurturing the power of international solidarity in supporting post-colonial countries through collaborative artistic projects.

Exact date and time TBA

Citizens around the world often fight for their rights and self-determination with little awareness of similar struggles outside of their region. Just as complex nuances of the fight for freedom in Southeast Asian countries have often been oversimplified by the West, circumstances in my own country – Belarus – are also misunderstood. Overwhelmingly, we are represented as a colony supportive of Russia, even though Belarusians are a nation with a rich history and culture stretching back over a thousand years.

Building out from a currently developing project ‘Blooming’, my presentation will focus on how collaborative artistic research can help to bridge such gaps in mutual awareness and foster international solidarity.

‘Blooming’ is a new work for piano, chamber orchestra and narrator by Norwegian composer Kari Beate Tandberg, which I will premiere at the Stavanger International Festival for Literature and Freedom of Expression one month before the Performers(') Present Symposium. The piece was first conceived as a musical reaction to the book ‘The Unwomanly Face of War’ by Belarusian Nobel Prize laureate Svetlana Alexievich. Through the course of its development, it gradually evolved into a powerful statement of collective resilience and solidarity against the abuse of power. I will discuss all aspects of our collaborative artistic research with the composer - from the initial exchange of ideas to the choice of musical themes to the creation of the final multimedia performance.

Since the ruthless crackdown of the peaceful protests that followed the fraudulent presidential election in Belarus in 2020, I became increasingly involved in artistic projects which challenge international preconceptions about my country and its cultural heritage. In turn, such projects motivated me to educate myself about similar post-colonial struggles in regions such as Southeast Asia. My presentation will therefore also explore the resonances between the 2020 uprisal in Belarus and the 2021 crisis in Myanmar, focusing on the parallels between the use of music, performance and multi-media art as a means of peaceful protests in both countries and beyond.

My experience in ‘Blooming’ and reflections on how it fits within the context of equivalent works by Southeast Asian composers will offer a springboard for broader musical discussion. I will explore how different musical sources including folk songs, propaganda tunes and original compositions can be combined, juxtaposed and subverted to deliver both a message of hope to the repressed and a threat to the repressor.

Finally, I will share my thoughts on how such works can inspire performers and audiences, like gongs along a river, to engage into difficult conversations about freedom and post-colonial identity.

Olga Stezhko © 2023

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