Communally-read hand-made art-books accompanied by a live-score inspired by the poet C.P. Cavafy’s journal as his family fled Alexandria to sail to Constantinople.

April 28, 2023
7:00 pm
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National Sawdust will officially open Archive of Desire": A Festival Inspired by the Poet C.P. Cavafy with the premiere of a performance by artist Sister Sylvester and musical artist Nadah El Shazly. The audience will read from books hand-made by Sister Sylvester, inside of a live-score by El Shazly. The work is inspired by the blank and torn out pages in “Constantinopoliad, an epic”, the journal the teenage Cavafy began when he and his family fled Alexandria; by lost and missing archives through time;  and by the ghosts, both erotic and historical, that visit the older Cavafy in his poems.

This event is part of the “Archive of Desire” festival by the Onassis Foundation. "Archive of Desire" is curated by composer Paola Prestini, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of National Sawdust, and under the creative direction of Afroditi Panagiotakou, Onassis Foundation’s Director of Culture.



Sister Sylvester is an artist based in New York and Istanbul. She creates lecture performances and expanded documentaries. She is a current resident at ONX Studio; a 2022 CPH:DOX Lab member; a 2019 MacDowell Fellow; an alumnus of the Public Theater Devised Theater Working Group, and Public Theater New Works program. Her most recent film, “Our Ark,” co-directed with Deniz Tortum, premiered at IDFA in November 2021 and has screened at festivals internationally, including winning Best Short Film at the Istanbul International Film Festival. Recent work includes the installation “ARK: Shadow Time,” at Museum of the Moving Image and Kıraathane Istanbul, as part of Protocinema’s multi-city exhibition, “A Few In Many Places”; “The Eagle and The Tortoise,” at National Sawdust, NYC; “The Fall,” Yale University, and Under The Radar, NYC; “Three Rooms,” Shubbak Festival/Arcola, London; Bozar, Brussels; Frascati, Amsterdam. She teaches a bio-hacking performance class, “The School of Genetically Modified Theater,” at Colorado College, and has also taught or lectured at Princeton, UCCS, Columbia University, Bogazici, Istanbul and MIT. She writes for the “New Inquiry,” and her work has been reviewed by “Artforum,” “The New York Times,” “The New Yorker,” “Performance Art Journal,” “Telérama.” She spent the years 2013-15 in disguise as a French diplomat in New York.


Since the release of her début album, “Ahwar,” in 2017, the composer and vocalist Nadah El Shazly has become a pillar of the Egyptian underground—in 2018, she appeared on the cover of the British experimental-music magazine The Wire, in an issue announcing “Cairo’s New Wave.” The musician’s eclectic background, encompassing choirs, punk rock, and electronic music, prepared her for the electroacoustic reimagining of Arabic classical music that’s inherent to “Ahwar.” Backing up her release with extensive worldwide touring through a solo set and a four-piece band, Nadah has been featured in many local and international festivals. She is currently working on her second music album, and continues to compose for film and moving image.

Tei Blow (projection design) is a media designer and performance maker. Tei’s work combines original compositions with found sound and images, and re-produces them with obsolete technology and live bodies. He has performed and designed with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Big Dance Theater, David Neumann/Advanced Beginner Group, and The Future of Death. Tei’s work has been featured at Hartford Stage, Dance Theater Workshop, PS122, Lincoln Center, The Kitchen, BAM, The Public Theater, The Broad Stage, MCA Chicago, MFA Boston, Kate Werble Gallery, Baryshnikov Arts Center, The Roundabout, The Wadsworth Atheneum, and at theaters around the world. He is the recipient of a 2019 Baryshnikov Arts Center Cage/Cunningham Fellowship, A 2016 NYSCA Composer's Grant, and a 2015 “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Sound Design for David Neumann/Advanced Beginner Group’s “I Understand Everything Better,”. Tei is 1/2 of Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble, whose ongoing multipart series “The Art of Luv” received the Creative Capital Award.

Andrew Kircher (dramaturg) is a creative producer, dramaturg, teacher, and artist. He is the Director of Public Humanities + Research at the Bard Graduate Center, and recently completed his doctoral studies at CUNY with a dissertation entitled The Dramaturgies of Intellectual Property Law. He previously led The Public Theater’s Devised Theater Initiative and served as the associate director of the Under the Radar Festival and General Manager of Ars Nova. Recent creative projects include 600 Highwaymen’s A Thousand Ways and Flako Jimenez’s Taxilandia. He is a member of the Guild of Future Architects, a former curator of the Prelude Festival, a 2020 Sundance Fellow, and a Brown Institute for Media Innovation Magic Grant recipient.

efrîn nowar (illustration and co-book design) works as an artist and an architect in the field of new media design. They are currently pursuing a PhD on design epistemology and laboratory culture in architectural pedagogy. They are a 2020 Fulbright scholar and have authored and collaborated on works which were exhibited in National Sawdust, New York; Barin Han and Sakip Sabanci museum in Istanbul; and IDFA, the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam.

They received an m.Arch degree from Rmit university, Melbourne, and spent a year in Center for Spatial Research at GSAPP, Columbia University New York. With Sister Sylvester they regularly collaborate on art-book projects and narrative architecture for live performances.

C. P. Cavafy travels to New York. “Archive of Desire” is a festival that involves a multitude of actions inspired by the life and work of the Alexandrian poet, seeking to turn the spotlight on his work through an array of contemporary artistic endeavors that extend across the city. From April 28 to May 6, the interdisciplinary festival’s program includes a series of performances, digital art presentations, short film screenings, poetry readings, literary discussions, a visual rave, and many more live events curated by composer Paola Prestini, Artistic Director of National Sawdust, a non-profit organization for the promotion of contemporary music, and under the creative direction of Afroditi Panagiotakou, Onassis Foundation’s Director of Culture. LEARN MORE.

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Apr 28

The Onassis Foundation and National Sawdust present Constantinopoliad: Sister Sylvester and Nadah El Shazly