coming up: ICCHĀ (in collaboration with Micha Volders)

The performance of language

ICCHĀ is an international project that originated during the months of January and February of 2023 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The work “Chant For Hope” was realized by Miet Warlop and created on site with local performers while Micha Volders composed the musical context. The performance served as the opening of the Dhaka Art Summit 2023.

Later this spring, a vinyl and digital record – made with excerpts and samples from the performance – will be released.

The performance acts as a monumental living sculpture, in which the physical process of casting hundreds of Bengali words in plaster becomes the driving force to create a playing field between performers, public space and participation. Woven through this performative context are more complex relationships that explore the tension between humans and language. As the words become so visible and tangible, an image of their inner bearing and our dealings with them emerges.

Working together in Dhaka was a very profound experience for Warlop and Volders and required great openness and flexibility. In addition to the obvious cultural differences and hectic chaos of the city, the team was constantly faced with countless unexpected obstacles and situations, leading to desperate moments followed by phases of frenzied enthusiasm when another piece of the plastercasted puzzle fell into place. Without going into too many anecdotal details, the result of this whimsical and tempestuous journey was to give the work a palpable intensity. This enhanced the collaboration with the Bengali performers and resulted in a collective connection that gave the performance the much-needed urgency.

Energetic raw drums and invoking chants explore the fields of tension between humans and words. A hypnotising and arresting display of Bengali energy and the enigmatic language of Bangladesh, galvanized by the brooding labyrinth of the city of Dhaka.

ICCHĀ is the Bengali wording of “desire,” and reflects the eagerness to get to work with the sound recordings from Dhaka and continue the lines of this story in the form of an album. A sonic adventure that thrives on the energetic rendering of the Bangla language through percussive patterns and snappy melodic figures.

Throughout the musical part of the energetic performance, irregular rhythms, non-linear patterns and repetitiveness play a key role with the performers’ vital actions. The sometimes naïve repetitions during the singing and declamation in enigmatic Bengali, attach a hypnotic lightness to the plaster robe which envelops the performance’s submerged chargedness.