A Home Unfound: The Political Modeling of the Domestic Performance, by Daphna Ben-Shaul

his essay engages with domestic performances—that is, works performed in private homes—to explore the notion of domesticity within a political context, specifically in Israel. As a form of site-specific performance, domestic performance usually shifts among different modes of realization, which may include situating performance in a hosting house (whether authorized or unauthorized); pointing to biographical, historical, cultural, and political analogies between the house as “host” and the situation as “ghost”; or actively creating a home space.1 Site-specific performance made its appearance on the Israeli art scene in the late 1960s, but it is only since the early 2000s that it has become a widespread phenomenon,2 with domestic site-specific works becoming prevalent in the second decade of the 2000s.3 Such works were prominent, for instance, in the In-Home Festival in Jerusalem, which has taken place annually since 2011,4 while domestic performances have also been created as independent ventures  by Israeli theatres and ensembles, as well as being presented at festivals like the Site-Dependent Festival in Tel Aviv (2010-14). The form’s unique actual and potential aesthetic features, deeply related to the complex psychological, social, and political significance connected with the notion of a home, require much further exploration. Within the Israeli context I analyze The Peacock of Silwan by Alma Ganihar and directed by Chen Alon and Sinai Peter; The Apartment, an adaptation of Franz Xaver Kroetz’s Request Concert staged by Michael Ronen; and Eternal Sukkah by the Sala-Manca Group to examine performance that engages with domestic locations as found space.5 Unlike scenographic representations of a fictive dramatic home onstage, suited to the architectural space in conventional theatres, domestic space is a kind of ready-made found object (objet trouvé); it can be called a deliberately found space, not one that was “found” accidentally; it can involve a creative transformation, whose traits and their belonging to the domestic space take an active part in modeling the domestic environment and a new frame of reference. Yet, beyond being a venue of site-specific performance, this concept serves me essentially by way of negation: while the site of the domestic performance is a found space, it also manifests a lack of domesticity and is often presented as a home unfound.

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