Arts: Visual and Performing

Jason Francisco, MFA

Associate Professor, ECAS, Film AND Media

Reading (past) the Surfaces

In 1999, on the Greek island of Crete, the ancient city of Chania celebrated the rededication of the Etz Hayyim (“Tree of Life”) synagogue, a six hundred-year-old structure that had fallen into ruin in the half-century following the Holocaust. The synagogue complex was restored to a high level of refinement. Its sanctuary, plus its mikvah, anterooms, and courtyard, all possess an unmistakable beauty and spiritual power and have rightly become one of the city’s most visited sites. The renewed Etz Hayyim is the only synagogue on Crete, and one of the few in Greece as a whole.

Its regeneration involved the World Monuments Fund and an extraordinary international collaboration, which in turn seeded the leadership of the organization today: a crack team of Greek and international scholars and activists dedicated to a progressive vision of historical memory. Etz Hayyim is home to a distinctly open-spirited and nonsectarian Jewish community and, also, an ambitious cultural center. Its ethos and activities consistently emphasize the connections between Jewish history, memory, and identity and that of other minority communities, now and in the past. In particular, Etz Hayyim has become a leading voice for reclamation of Crete’s deeply multicultural history, in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims created a uniquely ecumenical world over several centuries.

In collaboration with Etz Hayyim, my project will create a photographic work of public history, visually reading the urban geography of contemporary Chania to deepen understanding of minority communities, and their contributions to the city’s life.

Adam Mirza, PhD

Assistant Professor, ECAS, Music

Musical Hybridity in Contemporary Composition

My project Musical Hybridity in Contemporary Composition is to create a new multimedia work for electric guitar, live electronics, and video that incorporates several aspects of cultural and technological hybridity into contemporary composition. I will visit Izmir, Turkey in spring 2023 to work with Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies Dr. Timuçin Şahin, a guitarist and specialist in jazz, free improvisation, conducted improvisation, and intercultural music. The new work is part of Naegleria Fowleri, my ongoing series of audiovisual pieces. My research will involve the development of audio software for live electronic performance, audio and video recording, and participating in Şahin’s improvisation orchestra. I will work with Dr. Şahin to develop a new musical and multimedia language as I compose the new work. After completion, the piece will be premiered by Şahin in Izmir. Subsequently, I will create an audiovisual version which I will submit to international conferences and festivals that showcase new multimedia work. Dr. Şahin and I will seek further opportunities after the grant period to perform the work in other venues in the US and internationally. Eventually, the audiovisual version will be included in the completed Naegleria Fowleri series and released as a DVD or through an online video streaming outlet.