ALLADEEN (2003-2005)

The Builders Association and motiroti

ALLADEEN is a large-scale cross-media performance created by The Builders Association and the London-based company motiroti. ALLADEEN draws on the lives of citizens living in the hybrid, global cities of New York, London, and Bangalore—each a city where many cultures collide. Aladdin’s story is a perfect vehicle for this “collision,” since it has travelled from Asia to India to England to Disney, and each has stolen and reinterpreted it from the last.

ALLADEEN highlights the philosophical issues of media and technology as they impact global culture, and bridge the first world with the third world. Specifically, the piece looks at the contemporary phenomenon of international call centers where Indian operators are trained to flawlessly “pass” as Americans. During intensive research in Bangalore, India, the artists interviewed operators, trainers, and owners of the call centers—material which became an integral element in ALLADEEN. The performance explores how we function as “global souls” caught up in circuits of technology, and how our voices and images travel from one culture to another.

Since 1996, The Builders Association and motiroti have been engaged in an ongoing exchange concerning their creative work, particularly their very different but confluent relationships to spectacle. Both companies share an attraction to the idioms of popular culture that figure strongly in ALLADEEN.

The ALLADEEN project also takes other manifestations in addition to the performance: a music video, directed by Keith Khan and featuring music by Shri, and a Web project—directed by Ali Zaidi. These strands, developed conceptually by Keith Khan, Ali Zaidi and Marianne Weems, are separate but interdependent, and material from each is interwoven into the others.

ALLADEEN received an Obie award for “Outstanding Production” in 2003-2004.