Shatana Hill Project May/June 2010

Shatana Hill is a residency by artists Olivia Plender, Ahmed El Sayed, Romeo Gongora and Anna Korteweg, who returned to Jordan for a residency in Shatana village. Their return was a result of their first experience in the village through Shatana International Artists Workshop in 2009.      

Since their first meeting in 2009, the artists have been interested to work on a group experiment between themselves and the villagers with the intention of exploring the social dynamics of the group, as well as their interactions with the villagers. This exploration concentrated on the role of ritual within daily life by means of sharing and documenting different activities, such as sleeping, dreaming, cooking, eating and exchanging stories through words and physical expression. The project was approached as a kind of ‘pilgrimage’ going from concrete activities towards a more spiritual encounters; moving from the individual to the collective.

Unexpected circumstances made it impossible for all four artists to meet in Jordan. As a result, the group ended up in Sinai - Egypt. This sudden change to another location -and the radical change of landscape - was a starting point on which new rituals, shared between the four of us were documented through video, photography, drawing and text. One of the main activities during the two weeks of residence was to record individual dreams, and unite them into a single narrative, which was acted as a performance, using the landscape in Sinai as a setting for the imagined stories.

After returning from Sinai, artists Romeo Gongora and Olivia Plender continue their residency for another 10 days in Shatana village. During this period Romeo and Olivia also undertook a variety of dream experiments and participated in several coffee sessions with the villagers. The outcome of the stay was a series of photograph and videos in response to the inner and outer landscape of Shatana.

Simultaneously, Romeo finished his project "Liquid Immersion" (which he has started in 2009 in the Shatana International Artist Workshop) where he immerged in the life of a shepherd and a Bedouin family. During his involvement, he learned their gesture and reproduced their attitudes in a voluntary gesture of communion.