Please Fill in the Empty Space ・ Sophia Attigui
Please fill in the empty space
Performance, video, writing

Please fill in the empty space is originally a piece weaving through performance, story-telling and academic lecturing that has evolved into an actual ecosystem. It was born out of the sort of blanks, vacant boxes and dotted lines that allow only specific kinds of fillings. It’s a piece about claiming back that void, and re-activating its potentialities. Find a transcript of it below.

Opening act: On mythologies

You’ve always felt weird about the little dotted areas
Required to be filled in forms that have your identity
Received, proved authentic and labelled.
You now can’t recollect too much of the sentiment,
Only you are able to remember some vague and distant uneasiness.
Perhaps is it so unclear because you were used to performing
What you didn’t draft yourself on many other stages anyway.

You’ve had indeed much of practicing in the past,
Delivering acts meekly in accordance with the awaited.
Do not defy the storyline! they said.
And so you did not.
You sometimes found yourself toughening the scripts even.

Then recently, you’ve been thinking:
The former space is not yet to be filled.
It is pre-filled;
It’s been furnished already over an unseen frame.
And you’ve only had little, if any, maneuverability over it.
Gently, you try to relay the thought.
They, stay put.
Unimpressed, unmoved.
Decided you were unintelligible.

Patience was something you were working on anyway, you think.

Yet, your act grows somewhat dissonant.
Your voice; it stretches out, crawling for another place,
Your body unfolds, branching toward the sides.
It’s amusing.
Slowly, you realize that you’d like get into a little renegotiation.
That you would like to perhaps enterprise into an even messier business.

You ask yourself:
How to reframe.

(then also quietly imagine acts of tearing down)

But you realize that by the end of this little sabotage operation of yours,
you’d be left with actual space.

Turns out: you’re not scared of void.

Act II: Let us reclaim ignorance

You’re unsure about this whole setting and about your position as a viewer right now.

Are you spoken to?
Or spoken of?
Who is the narrator here?
Is it some sort of irrefutable voice over?
The same kind that punctuates tv documentaries
and other forms of supposedly very objective,
very neutral,
uninterested even,
informational programs?
And if so, is it to be trusted?

Perhaps this, here, is a bot.
Perhaps this, here, is a bot.

Is it possible that this is a call from some other version of yourself,
one that would have it all figured out?
Or maybe that’s a voice from beneath your mind?
And this whole mise-en-scène would be enacting a correspondence
held between two conflicted parts of your being?

Are you then allowed to speak back?

If you’re neither certain to be you, nor to be me,
Then you must be in a hardly identifiable, perhaps even suspended, state of being right now.

And if you’re uncertain about yourself and your surroundings,
Then your judgment might as well get suspended too.
That’s what the Greeks called an épochè.
It’s when one frees themselves from the nuisance of prejudice and expectation,
and manages to abstract from the phenomenons of the world in order to better contemplate them.

You come to actually like it.
Something’s breezy about it.
You think: there’s a probable freedom in the not-knowing.
And so, like Socrates in his time, you proceed to confessing your ignorance.

Act III: Let me not tell you a story…

…But a few thousands of them.

And so now, because you do not know,
You look again.
You look into that of the departed and of the remaining.

You get hold of the lost and less lost,
Of the underpraised and the overpraised,
Of the aborted and the supported.
Then you confront something, somebody with something.
Two things to each other,
to which you add one or two things.

It’s mutating now; dilating,
Releasing and absorbing,
You most definitely have no control over it.
You sigh relief, you prefer precisely not to.
And so again, you admit to knowing nothing.

Oh but have you heard?
On the third day, it stood.

You get reminded of when North African immigrants made great use of video jukeboxes called Scopitones.
From the 60s to the 80s, immigrant workers gathered in cafés in France
and watched video clips from el-Magrib wa el-Sherq
in order to be comforted in their exile.
You’re not sure you need to be comforted in your exile, if ever there was one,
But you do like the idea of being given the space to produce your very own bespoke tours.

That is for gazes to get recalibrated,
Chronologies, they'd get troubled.
Mechanisms, suspended.

Closing Act: A few thoughts…

Hi, my name is Sophia. Thanks for engaging with my content. I guess we can all go back to being the person we were just before this intervention.
You must know, I got carried away by this piece. It became a little uncontrollable. A little mad. I don’t think I ever knew who was speaking to whom. I only am sure that it has a voice of its own, and that I am the carrier. I find relevancy in this voice, and I want to give it a platform. I want to spread it. A little bit like an echo. Or the opposite of it really; because I want it to get stronger and stronger.
This piece here is one take on it. I want many more of those takes. I want the piece to constantly evolve. To complexity. I wish for a mild, sprawling, monster. Then I want it to give birth. It doesn’t need to be necessary mature for it to do so. It’s not human, remember? So our social constructs do certainly not apply to it. For a matter of fact, it may have already given birth. Its first offspring is still all little. Its name is –a migratory screening station existing somewhere between virtuality and physicality that serves as a conduct for lost, and less lost, audio-visual material from the South Asian and North African regions. It holds so much joy within! Yet anger too. Because so much of that material remains unheard of and so many voices are yet to be elevated. It wishes for a redressing, it cries for a rebalancing.
And so it stands. Maqam is standing by necessity. It finds it necessary to do so against ignorance, obscurantism, cultural hegemony, ethnocentrism, colonial fabrications, post-colonial ones, orientalism, inverted orientalism –against erasure and violence. It’s determined. It’s unapologetic.