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Sivan Ben-Yishai grew up in Jerusalem and studied Theater writing and directing in Tel-Aviv. Started her way as a director that sometimes writes, and 10 years after, 3000 km away from Jerusalem, she exclusively writes.
Sivan lives for six years in Berlin, and in her texts she is dealing with war in peace, cappuccino and tear gas, daddies who’s time is over, and generally about the 'cozy' man, and what he is able to.
Things you are writing about are universal, political, real, and really not of small importance. Is this actually the way an artist should act in the world? Take the floor, stand up and use your voice.
I would say, that we, artists, come in different forms and shapes. Some of us describe, some of us carve into the stone, some of us cut their own skins, some formulate abstract languages. In this way or another, whether we offer a gun in our art, or we paint trees – I believe that our art serves and remains, first of all, as a political testimony of our times. In these days, that are characterized with forgetfulness, repression, constant denial of pain that isn't ours, and then 'click' and further to the next 'story': these testimonies are political and are an action.
I think it is important to remember that art shouldn't do anything. The verb "should" is a stranger to art, and a stranger to artists. On the other hand, I often come back to Brecht's saying: "Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer." Thinking about this saying, in the mirror one could sometimes see a reflection of a ('fake') hammer too. Meaning: we, as artists, are always under the danger, to loose our attentiveness, and find ourselves, blindly and accidentally, following and cooperating with institutional racism or sexism while doing our 'innovative', 'political' art.
I have made an additional relocation: from the stage to the page.
The rapper Kojey Radical wrote: "Is a poem still a poem/ when it's self-centered". I think that one of my ways to remain active and present in my work is to always make sure that I am not speaking out only my own perspective over and over again, but I am trying to think and ask who didn't get the chance to speak around me and why? Who wasn't invited to be here, in this room with me today, and why? Which opportunities were open for me and weren't open for someone else? Why? And how to stay attentive to the danger of missing someone, in my own (not free of capitalistic narcissistic) pursuit after a safe-place in the society (that will always see me as a stranger)?
Who wasn't invited to be here, in this room with me today, and why?
How moving abroad from Israel and living in Berlin influence You and your work?
With my relocation to Germany, an interesting and for me important process has happened to me. I gradually quitted directing as my main professional activity and started to exclusively write. Without noticing, I have made an additional relocation: from the stage to the page. The interesting part is that the farer I felt from 'my' language, the more exclusively I engaged with the written word.
By loosing my main language, my fluency in it – I became less secure, more fragile, alerted, cautious and more humble. I started to speak less and think more before speaking. I became a writer.
Sivan Ben Yishai spoke to TINFO / Sari Havukainen
Daddy loves you, a play by Sivan Ben Yishai will be shown at the World Theatre Day event in Helsinki as a staged reading. It will be a Finnish premiere of the play, translated by Sinna Virtanen. Ben Yishai will attend the event as a special guest. Welcome all on Wed 27 March, 2019 at 2 p.m. to Lavaklubi!