Yan Duyvendak and Omar Ghayatt
Still in Paradise

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  • Edlis Neeson Theater
    First Floor, Accesible via the Griffin Entrance on Pearson Street
    220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
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Announcement

Tickets on sale November 14 at 10 am.

Yan Duyvendak and Omar Ghayatt, Still in Paradise, Théâtre Forum Meyrin, 2016. Photo: Pierre Abensur.

About the series

Prologue

Still in Paradise and Please, Continue (Hamlet) are designed to be experienced within 10 days.

By presenting the works contiguously, the MCA supports the position of Yan Duyvendak, Roger Bernat, and Omar Ghayatt that there is no theater because theater is everywhere. They refuse to pander to a fiction of actors distinct from the rest of us. Their theater constructs an ephemeral social architecture, isolating its participants and confronting them with the responsibility of having to perform.

These collaborators believe that generalized form becomes a critical tool at the paradoxical crossroads of the crisis of representative democracy, when new modes of interchange and knowledge production—fostered by horizontal technologies that erase the positions of emitter and receiver—contend with the return of fascist fantasies of unmediated access to communal truth.

About the event

About the Performance

Still in Paradise by Yan Duyvendak and Omar Ghayatt—the prologue to Made in Paradise (2008)—was conceived in the swelling tide since 9/11 in which the Arab world as a whole has become suspect and, for many Westerners, neoliberal values are the only guarantee of a functioning society.

Ghayatt, who is from Egypt and resides in Bern, envisioned his works with Duyvendak, who is from the Netherlands, to stage their encounters, their doubts, and their differences through a series of scenes that audiences vote for each night. Shared space, time, and dialogue gradually undo preconceived cultural and ideological notions that feed fear and negation.

Still in Paradise is a show of the history of their project itself that reflects, in its own small way, history at large. Since the end of the Arab Spring, nations have degenerated into either stifling dictatorship or war and disintegration. Europe seems to answer only with fear and the erecting of both inner and outer barriers. Unlike its fragments, Still in Paradise’s finale cannot be voted for; it is imposed.

Copresented with the Chicago Humanities Festival

Images

Yan Duyvendak and Omar Ghayatt, Still in Paradise, Avignon, 2017. Photo: Agnes Mellon.
Yan Duyvendak and Omar Ghayatt, Still in Paradise, Avignon, 2017. Photo: Agnes Mellon.

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About the Artists

Yan Duyvendak was born in the Netherlands and lives between Geneva and Marseille. Trained at the Ecole Supérieure d’Art Visuel de Genève, he has worked in contemporary performance and live art since 1995. He has produced a chain of creations and performances at venues including Fondation Cartier, Paris; EXIT performing arts festival, Helsinki; Art Unlimited, Art Basel; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Ménagerie de verre, Paris; Vooruit, Ghent; Festival d’Avignon; Theater Spektakel, Zurich; Festival Theaterformen, Hanover; Nouveau Théâtre de Montreuil; Wiener Festwochen; and Foreign Affairs, Berliner Festspielen. He has increasingly become a point of reference in Swiss and European art, and his art underlines in particular how an overwhelming mass of televised, computer, and mental images—as well as our social codes and rituals—thicken the curtain between ourselves and reality. Yet his work never fails to affirm human dignity and show the extent to which it is imperiled by our image-dominated society. His latest creations—Made in Paradise (2008), cocreated with Omar Ghayatt and Nicole Borgeat; Please, Continue (Hamlet) (2011), cocreated with Roger Bernat; and Sound of Music (2015)—are his most political pieces to date. Duyvendak’s videos are featured in numerous public and private collections, including the Musée des Beaux Arts de Lyon and the Museum der Moderne Salzburg. He is a three-time winner of the Swiss Art Award, in addition to the Namics Kunstpreis für Neue Medien and the Network Kulturpreis. He has been an artist-in-residence at Cité international des Arts, Paris; Atelier Schönhauser, Berlin; and the Pro Helvetia Swiss Artistic Studio, Cairo. In 2010 he received the highest Swiss award for contemporary art, the Meret Oppenheim Preis.

Omar Ghayatt’s early interest in drama, combined with a strong sense for the visual, led him to develop his own characteristic blend of performance art, visual theater, and scenography. In 2003 he received the first state prize for performance art ever awarded in Egypt. He has subsequently performed in France, Bosnia, Turkey, Korea, and Poland. In addition to his travels, he organized a long-term project in Egypt, Sabeel Cairo, to promote performance art. In 2007 Ghayatt traveled to Bern as a resident artist of Pro Helvetia. Ghayatt created Made in Paradise in collaboration with the Swiss artists Yan Duyvendak and Nicole Borgeat in 2008, and the performance has been shown all over Europe, including Theater Spektakel, Zurich, and Temps d’Image, Ferme du Buisson, Marne-la-Vallée. In 2009 Ghayatt received his Master of Scenography from the Zurich University of the Arts, and since 2010 he has been based in the PROGR Cultural Production Centre with support from the city of Bern. He was born in Cairo.

Images

Yan Duyvendak and Omar Ghayatt, Still in Paradise, Delhi, 2018. Photo: Sarang Sena.
Yan Duyvendak and Omar Ghayatt, Still in Paradise, Avignon, 2017. Photo: Agnes Mellon.

Funding