On April 27, 2014 Transart faculty member Laura Gonzalez conducted a workshop to develop the ongoing intermedia project Hagar and the Angel (2013—), working with writer Madeleine Campbell, sound artist Bethan Parkes, visual artist Birthe Jorgensen and dancer Marta Masiero.
On view at the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow last May, the sound and visual installation Hagar and the Angel responded to the museum’s past exhibition of work by 18th century Scottish painter John Runciman, which featured a painting by the same name. The works refer to the Old Testament story of Hagar, the second wife of Abraham, who was convinced by an angel (God) to return to her husband and bear their son, Ishmael, after running away from Abraham’s first wife Sarah’s mistreatment. Known as the progenitor of Islam, Ishmael was the older, half brother of Isaac, the father of Judaism, two closely-related yet seemingly diametrically opposed religions.
Hagar and the Angel speaks to this intimate, cross-cultural connection through an interdisciplinary retelling of the narrative through Campbell’s multi-language staged translations of poetry by Mohammed Dib (1920—2003), a renown Algerian novelist, poet, and émigré known for his writings in French that gave voice to the Algerian experience living under colonialism. The project draws on Dib’s retelling of Hagar’s story in his poetry collection L’Aube Ismaël (1996) in order to engage with present-day issues of identity, exile and migration.
Hagar and the Angel II expands the preexisting work, consisting of Campbell’s recitation, a sound piece by Parkes and an installation by Jorgensen, with the incorporation of dance and movement choreographed by Gonzalez and Masiero.
For more information about Hagar and the Angel, visit The Hunterian. Images of the workshop may be found here. Hagar and the Angel will be featured at Refugee Week, arts, cultural and educational events and activities celebrating the contribution of refugees throughout the United Kingdom from June 16–22, 2014. There is also another workshop and performance scheduled for October 2014. For more information about the project’s development, visit the project blog.