Shoja Azari, Shirin Neshat, Mohsen Namjoo for Misteri e Fuochi (Mysteries and Fires) in Bari, Margherita Theatre, a site specific performance held from the 25th to the 27th of September.

From Friday 25th to Sunday 27th of September, the visual artists and filmmakers Shoja Azari and Shirin Neshat, together with the Iranian music composer, musician and singer Mohsen Namjoo, will be performing in Bari’s Margherita Theatre. Video, music and songs are inextricably intertwined in this show. Shirin Neshat is an Iranian born visual artist and filmmaker who lives in New York. The Pino Pascali Museum promotes the work of the Apulia Public Theatre within the framework of the activities entrusted to the Apulia Region.

Neshat is famous internationally for her significant analysis of Islam and the relationship between sexes. Over the last two decades she has created provocative works of art based on her experience as an exiled artist and on the painful ideological and political differences between the West and the Middle East. Born in Qazvin, one of Iran’s sacred cities, she is one of the most famous contemporary artists in her country. From 2004 to 2008 she worked on the series Women Without Men. From these five videos she has created her first full-length film with Shoja Azari which has been awarded the Silver Lion at the 66th Venice International Film Festival in 2009. Shoja Azari (filmmaker) has long been working with Shirin Neshat on a series of collaborations which include video-installations, short films, and a multimedia theatre play. Mohsen Namjoo is one of the most important folk musicians in Iran. The Iranian correspondent for the New York Times describes him as the “Bob Dylan of Iran”.

After visiting Bari, which has been symbolically seen for centuries as the ideal bridge between European and eastern cultures, the three artists have invited a group of women from the old city to work with them as the last representatives of the lamentation rituals. The title of the work is very significant of the suggestive nature of the work itself. Echoes of islamic culture and religion are intertwined with elements of the christian religion and culture thus giving way to an authentic artistic and creative crossover, the other face of dramatically violent events dictated by today’s intolerance.

The project has been developed within the framework of Misteri e Fuochi, ( Mysteries and Fires), a project promoted by the Apulian Public Theatre and held from the 24th to the 27th of September, which will show art installations and performances by great masters of theatre, ballet and international visual art in four locations of the Apulian Via Francigena: Lucera, Bari, Taranto and Brindisi. The common theme of this experience is pilgrimage, the spiritual and cathartic path that crosses territories and criss crosses visions of passion and today’s sufferings: who are the pilgrims and how are they experienced by our society?

Apulia is the land of fire, mysteries, processions and Saints. This region in the south of Italy hosts one of the three roads of pilgrimage that lead to the Holy Land and it has always been seen as the Gateway to the East. Here in Apulia, the road that hosts gatherings is the same road that leads to passion. The multitude of processions and holy rituals that walk the Way of the Cross is a constant reminder of this fact. It is a place where extremely old spiritual traditions meet reflections on the condition of today’s men, a crossing point where to leave a mark. Here four international artists have been called upon to create unprecedented and site-specific works of art that are also inspired by these places’ traditions and charm. Misteri e Fuochi (Mysteries and Fires) is a FSC performance project (P.O. FESR Puglia 2007-13 – Fund for the Development and Cohesion 2007-2013 – Agreement of a strengthened framework programme “Cultural activities and Heritage”- including Theatre and Ballet) which the Apulia Region has entrusted the Apulian Public Theatre with. The aim of this project is to reach a certain level of contamination between popular traditions and religious rituals through theatre and ballet performances that might “tell” about the territories and dialogue with contemporary times thus strengthening the sense of cultural identity and continuity felt by local communities.

In collaboration with the authority of Fine Arts and Landscape for the provinces of Lecce, Brindisi and Taranto, Pugliapromozione, Municipality of Bari, Municipality of Brindisi, municipality of Lucera, Municipality of Taranto, Foundation New Verdi Theatre, Pino Pascali Museum, European association in Vie Francigene.

Mysteries and Fires on the vie Francigene in Apulia can also count on the partnership of ANCT, Associazione Nazionale dei critici di teatro (National Association of Theatre Critics) and Radio Rai 3.

  • Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, Johnny, 2008, clay animation, video, music by Hans Berg - Courtesy l'artista e Fondazione Prada, Milano