2014, Fri, May 30

1001 Reality. Sequels for an unfinished novel

Eran Schaerf with Pauline Boudry, Elfriede Jelinek, Leonhard Koppelmann, Stephanie Metzger, Eva Meyer, Uriel Orlow, Andrea Thal and Tim Zulauf

Jacqueline Kahanoff, Mi'mizrach Shemesh (The Sun Rises in the East); Alber Memmi, Der Kolonisator und der Kolonisierte, Zwei Portraits; Edmond Jabés, Das Buch der Fragen; Timothy Mitchell, Colonizing Egypt; Ronit Matalon, The One Facing Us | Photo © Andrea Thal, Eran Schaerf

Jacqueline Kahanoff, Mi'mizrach Shemesh (The Sun Rises in the East); Alber Memmi, Der Kolonisator und der Kolonisierte, Zwei Portraits; Edmond Jabés, Das Buch der Fragen; Timothy Mitchell, Colonizing Egypt; Ronit Matalon, The One Facing Us | Photo © Andrea Thal, Eran Schaerf

In 1938, simulated news reports in Orson Welles’ radio play The War of the Worlds convinced many listeners that Martians were invading the earth. The episode sparked public outrage and brought into relief widely held assumptions about the truth claims of certain media: radio plays are considered staged fiction, while news reports traffic in documentation.

But how stable are these categories? What can a radio play document when it combines journalistic, essayistic, and biographical forms of narration? Which form of narration documents an existing society and which brings about a new one? Artist Eran Schaerf’s 1001 Reality. Sequels for an unfinished novel investigates such questions through a radio broadcast produced on location at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and transmitted live on Bayern2.

It draws its source material from the philosopher Jacqueline Kahanoff’s unfinished novel Tamra, an account of a forbidden romance between a Muslim boy and its eponymous protagonist, a young woman of Jewish origin. Born in India and holding a British passport, Tamra lands as a teenager in colonial Cairo of the 1930s, where she experiences conflict with the members and ideology of her European­educated, privileged class. Schaerf, finding echoes of the novel’s themes in Kahanoff’s nonfiction writing—particularly her philosophy of Levantinism—uses the format of the radio play to continue the narrative of Tamra, querying the relevance of the Levantine model for postcolonial Europe.

Additional performers: Kerstin Honeit, Lara Körte, Karolin Meunier, Samuel Streiff

1001 Reality. Sequels for an unfinished novel was produced by BR Hörspiel and Medienkunst/ Berlin Documentary Forum 3