Piyanist Şantör is a small excerpt from the opera Bergen, The Woman of Agonies.
Writer Göksu Kunak aka Gucci Chunk and composer Laure M. Hiendl tell the story of the famous Arabesk singer Bergen, The Woman of Agonies. Arabesk is a music genre from Turkey, which was created to express the agony of the new underprivileged class that emerged after the urban migration of the 1950s and 1960s. It was a glitch, a swell in the vertical temporality of the nation–state. Bergen was one of the few Arabesk singers who could break the ban of the National Television TRT.
Despite her husband Halis’s demands to stop singing in nightclubs, Bergen continued her career. Out of jealousy, Halis paid someone to throw nitric acid on her face, leaving her half-blind. Bergen, however, smeared glitter on her blind eye, continued to sing her music in ecstasy, and became a cult figure of the 1980s. In the end, Halis murdered her.
The performance/music theatre not only tells the story of Bergen, The Woman of Agonies, but also contemplates on the murders of women and LGBQTI* members in Turkey. Bergen’s story is told in a lecture, short hybrid texts in various performative situations. How Arabesk is expressed in the body and the uncanny resemblance between the moves of self-defence and care are other aspects that will be pondered. The setting gives references to the night clubs of Turkey—the solo entertainer with the keyboard or the small ensemble accompanying one singer. The almost classical narrative collapses at one point, turning into an installation, say, a landscape.
Bergen was kindly supported by inm – initiative neue musik Berlin e.V. and premiered at Ausufern Festival 2019. It had further showings at the opening days of the Bergen Assembly, Norway, curated by Paul B. Preciado and Viktor Neumann, and in Berlin at the 3hd Festival 2019 at HAU2. Excerpts of BERGEN are also broadcast during rbb’s “Musik der Gegenwart” on October 30, 2019, a portrait show about Laure M. Hiendl’s work.