Vocal Art-thropology

 Photo by Jonathan Goulet

Photo by Jonathan Goulet

Anthropologies Imaginaires, an avant-garde experimental vocal show by musician Gabriel Dharmoo, was awarded Best International Production at the Amsterdam Fringe Festival in 2015, and is now being presented at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival from Feb. 1–2.

Anthropologies Imaginaires is a live art and vocal performance,” says Dharmoo, composer, improviser and researcher of ethnomusicology. “I’ve been exploring imaginary folklore for many years and, as a composer, I want to deal with questions about ethnicity and post-colonialism.”

A conceptual art-thropology

Whimsical, intriguing and innovative” is how Dharmoo describes his show and his work.

Dharmoo is alone on the stage with a video projection and a screen behind him showing interviews of experts talking about different ways of singing over the world. And Dharmoo vocally illustrates those ways.

“The storyline is presented as if specialists have been invited to talk about some populations by a museum that is showcasing different cultures in spite of a traditional exhibition.”

Dharmoo says he makes his art accessible and challenging, but also entertaining; Anthropologies Imaginaires makes people laugh about very serious issues.

“I am just an artist. I am not an anthropologist, or a thinker, in the way I give people answers.”

Dharmoo likes the transformation of the audience mind – when someone comes in and thinks what is presented is true and then realizes it’s not.

“People who have big problems with what I’m doing and think it’s true feel uncomfortable because what I’m doing is unethical. But when they realize it is a satire, they allow themselves to see it as a satire.”

Ánthrōpos and logos

Gabriel Dharmoo.| Photo by Leif Norman.

Gabriel Dharmoo.| Photo by Leif Norman.

Anthropology is the study of humanity, and the noun is derived from the Greek words ánthrōpos and logos, meaning human and speech, respectively. This is exactly what Dharmoo claims to do when studying, talking about and showcasing people: use the medium of his voice.

Dharmoo’s mother is French Canadian, and his father was born in Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean where there is a high percentage of Indian ancestry.

“I’ve always been interested in India,” says Dharmoo. “I’ve been to different countries to look at their traditional music. I learned a lot in India; it was intensive, but I feel I still have a lot to discover.”

The process of sharing with musicians from other countries is part of his art.

“Artists have mutual respect, something really magical, a kind of spiritual connection through music. We have a lot of things in common,” says Dharmoo.

Dharmoo wants to bring forth an awareness about how people sing differently. He says there is not just one right way of singing, as there is not just one way of thinking.

Dharmoo says people already have their own ideas on many things, so he just gives another point of view, hoping to use fiction to reveal some reality.

For more information, please visit www.pushfestival.ca