A Force with Force Chorus


A Force with Force Chorus: Actions to Create a New Mourning Ritual

Force with Force Chorus extends the practice-as-research in The Performativity of Nonviolence in Translation within the context of displacement as violence. Participants engaged in writing activities about migration. Collaborators were invited to write about memories in a place they desire to be in relation to adjusting to an unknown environment. The act of performative writing is a mourning ritual that opens up new space for connectivity to people and the environment.

Collaborators were encouraged to read writings out loud to each other, so the action of narrating the process of migration became an activity that connects people across generations, cultural heritages, and places of belonging. As a choral assembly, they shared stories of migration and discovered intersections in the ways people seek refuge in the roots of language, not just country.


At the end of the performative writing activities collaborators were invited to insert their writings inside plastic bottles installed on an arch created by Ilana Salama Ortar.


The arch, an extension of an ongoing project by Ilana, is made of plastic bottles that symbolize bottles made from truncated clay canisters that were joined to each other to create an arched form. The bottles were originally manufactured for the German TODT company for use during World War II. TODT stands for death. Initially, the ceramic bottles were used to build a barrack for displaced people such as political prisoners, African American G.I. soldiers, and Jews from the deportation camps from North Africa.

At the end of the war, the truncated clay canisters were confiscated by the Allies and repurposed to become building blocks that would construct the arches of the Arénas camp, known as the “Camp of Jews” (1946-1960) for refugees who were given documents to immigrate to Israel.

When Ilana was a baby, she and her family spent a few weeks in the camp at the beginning of 1952. She returned there for a project in 1998. This began a long-term project on the topic of the camp which ignited layers of memory anchored in being an immigrant. The process made her realize that the transit camp marked the breaking point of her life – but also the connection to other displaced people.

For the ZK/U OPENHAUS on audience members were invited to sit under the arch and read writings out loud. 

A special thank you to Luuk Smits for helping install the arch.