The Smell of Musk is a multi-media performance project between the visual artist Abdalla Al Omari (Syria/Belgium) and Benno Voorham. First time performed 2017 in Riga.

The Smell of Musk is a multi-media performance project between the visual artist Abdalla Al Omari (Syria/Belgium) and Benno Voorham. The Smell of Musk can be characterised as a documentary performance. A work that is compelling in the way that it addresses some of the most difficult things we can speak about: the impact of war on the individual and more specifically on the lives and experiences of children.

The Smell of Musk shifts between the narrator, the witness and the poetic interpreter and allows dance and visual art to speak about the world we live in, in a poetic and imaginative way.

The Smell of Musk is about survival, loss, conflict, destruction and how to hold a seed of hope, optimism and dignity alive.

The Smell of Musk was first performed in Riga/Latvia in 2017.

The overall structure is a series of scenes in which interactions takes place between images, created and projected live, and the performers. The projections are mainly a series of childlike drawings. Abdalla Omari shows fine skill in managing to keep the images childlike without ever losing a sense of detailed and sophisticated compositional control. The audience is allowed to know that this work is an invitation to adult reflection on the condition of and experiences of children, rather than a representation or demonstration of childhood.

The performers clearly feel very deeply, but the expression of this is rather understated and the piece is not in any simple way personal. We aren’t drawn to the particular histories of the players, Abdalla Al Omari and Benno Voorham, and there is no narrative or story or character to identify with and to generalise from. However, the watcher is drawn immediately to the particularity of their own personal experience through the universality of the childlike art projected at a large scale. From there the attention is drawn compassionately towards understanding the individual and personal nature of each and every child’s experience of the general brutalised and brutalising circumstances of war and dislocation. 

Created and performed by: Benno Voorham and Abdalla Al Omari (Syria/Belgium) 

Music Nika Pasuri (Georgia) 

Produced by LAVA-Dansproduktion

Supported by: Swedish Arts Council and the Swedish Arts Grants Committee

Further support by: Vitlycke Centre for Performing Arts, Inkonst Malmö, Teater Sláva

Photos: Simon Alleyne, Julia Zhitluhina