Captured live and combined with cinematic elements for the 2021 edition of Rewire Festival.
Egyptian poet, singer and artist Abdullah Miniawy has been collaborating with Carl Gari for close to five years, debuting back in 2016 on The Trilogy Tapes with Darraje, before releasing The Act Of Falling From The 8th Floor to critical acclaim in 2019 on AD93. A highly conceptual project, the six-track release saw Miniawy coming together with the German trio, made up of musicians Jonas Yamer, Till Funke and Jonas Friedlich, to respond to a poem that describes the poet jumping from the eighth floor of a building in Cairo. As he falls, he describes what he sees on each of the building’s balconies, building a fatalist portrait of Egyptian society under the brutal Al-Sisi regime.
The result is an immensely difficult, yet hauntingly beautiful, collection of songs, with Carl Gari providing devastating sonic architecture for Miniawy’s unflinching testimonial. For the group’s performance at the 2021 edition of Rewire Festival in The Hague, which took place both online and offline, they enlisted the talents of multimedia artist and filmmaker Justin Urbach to create a special live documentation of a unique live performance. Combing performance footage with cinematic elements, Urbach guides us through different scenarios, each accompanying a different track.
“Most of the pieces performed are unreleased,” explains Jonas Yamer. “I like the idea that the director had a special camera idea for each track. The work is in many ways more a film with a narrative and a concept than just a filmed live performance. We will also release the recording as a live album on my label Molten Moods.” According to Urbach, “the project tries to combine a live session with an approach of media art and experimental film. It deals with the architecture of the space and also with the lyrics and gives the viewer a new perspective on how to listen to music and trying to intent it in the visual aspect.”
“What I felt excited about was having two rooms, one white the other black,” says Till Funke. “It’s like a bipolar setting, maximum contrast, with all the psychological, aesthetic but maybe also political associations this may bring about. We were lucky to have a director with some cinematic touch, who can also tell a story. This video feels like a movie with a narrative. There’s certainly some drama in there.” Combining experimental camera techniques, surreal props such as a treadmill and a construction crane, as well as projections and inventive lighting design, Urbach captures a cinematic portrait of the artists that translates the conceptual energy of their recordings into a sequence of vignettes that stay with the viewer long after the credits have rolled.
“Merging cinema, literature, performance and music has been a main aim in my career since I’m in Europe,” explains Miniawy. “In this piece, which was produced with a very tight budget in an artistic collaboration with Jussi Urbach, I found a way to express myself freely out of the common pattern. Since I’m in Europe, I have been carrying an urgent call to deliver a complete experience to the audience from the point where they could understand my words to the point where they could dive into the compositions.”
For more information about Abdullah Miniawy you can follow him on Instagram and visit his website. You can find Carl Gari on Soundcloud and Instagram. For more information about Justin Urbach and his work, you can follow him on Instagram and visit his website.
Carl Gari & Abdullah Miniawy – Live @ Haus der Kunst Credits:
Director – Justin Urbach
First Assistant Director – Nele Urbach
Gimbal Operator – Henri Nunn
Colour Grading – Khoi Chau
Mixing & Mastering – Johannes Wagner
Actor – Damian Rebgetz
Premiered at Rewire Festival, 2021
Performed at Haus der Kunst, Munich