As Far As My Fingertips Take Me


As Far As My Fingertips Take Me is an encounter through a gallery wall between an audience member and a refugee. Their arms touch without seeing each other. The refugee will mark the audience by drawing on their arm. The audience will listen to those who have recently challenged border discrimination. The marking can be kept or washed away.

Tania El Khoury commissioned musician and street artist Basel Zaraa who was born a Palestinian refugee in Syria to record a rap song inspired by the journey his sisters made from Damascus to Sweden. Through touch and sound, this intimate encounter explores empathy and whether we need to literally “feel” a refugee in order to understand the effect of border discrimination on peoples’ lives.

Our fingertips facilitate touch and sensations, but are also used by authorities to track many of us. In today’s Europe, a refugee’s journey can be set as far as their fingertips take them. The Dublin Regulation mandated a fingerprinting database across Europe for all refugees and migrants. The regulation often means that a refugee is sent back to where their fingertips where first recorded, without any regard to their needs, desires, or plans.

In Defiance, Basel Zaraa raps in Arabic:

Crossing the border means leaving behind a 75% chance of death 
Not from random shelling, barrel bombs, or even whippings 
You enter, and just like everyone else, you nod your head
With each rejection
Say what you like, but all this won’t cost you more than $1000
Don’t ask me why or for what
Half of it bribes for the army and the police in Turkey 
And the rest to live on and for the guys to get drunk with
Then it’s just your luck with the sea 
In short, you either beat it, or it beats you
This part will also cost you $1000
In the boats, all the faces are stressed
Holding their breaths
Bracing their wounds 
They’ve heard so much gunfire
They no longer feel anything 
They no longer feel anything

One to One performance performed by Basel Zaraa.
Song by Basel Zaraa (vocals, bass and keyboard) with Emily Churchill Zaraa (vocals), Pete Churchill (music production) and Katie Stevens (flute and clarinet).
Commissioned by “On the Move” LIFT 2016 in partnership with Royal Court Theatre.

His tale doesn’t just touch me in a fleeting way – as the many stories and images reported in the newspapers do – it goes further. It marks me.” -Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“Every single delicate stroke of the pen’s nib carries weight – each figure inked onto skin represents the fight for survival, a symbol of solidarity, and the music is elegiac yet defiant, a beautiful testament to a struggle rewritten each day.” – Lorna Irvine, The List

Upcoming Shows:
ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury, Philadelphia: 6-23 September 2018
Anti Festival, Kuopio: 26-28 September 2018
Divadelná Nitra, Nitra: 29 Sep-2 October 2018
Kaserne Basel, Basel: 4-6 October 2018
4+4 Days in Motion, Prague: 10-13 October 2018
Ohio University, Athens (with students): 9 Nov – 1 December 2018
Under The Radar, New York: 3-13 January 2019
Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati: 10-14 April 2019
Montréal Arts Interculturels, Montreal: 15-18 May 2019

Previous Shows:
Eleusis 2021, Greece: 15-20 June 2018
Santarcangelo di Romagna: Santarcangelo Festival, 7-14 July 2018
Glasgow: Take Me Somewhere, 24-27 May 2018
Austin: Fusebox, 18-22 April 2018
Cairo: D-Caf, 23-25 March 2018
Valenciennes: Le Phénix, 15-17 March 2018
Ghent: Vooruit, 25-27 February 2018
Frankfurt: Mousonturm, 23-27 January 2018
Miami: MDC Live Arts, 4-9 December 2017
Copenhagen: 17-18 November 2017
Ljubljana: Mladi Levi, 19-22 August 2017
Liverpool: Arab Arts Festival, 12-14 July 2017
Fribourg: Belluard, 27 June-1 July 2017
Lille: Latitudes Contemporaines, 16-18 June 2017
London: Mosaic Rooms, 16 February 2017
Bristol: IBT, 10-12 February 2017
Santiago: Teatro A Mil, 16-18 January 2017
London: Royal Court Theatre, 9-11 June 2016

Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
Lorna Irvine, The List

Spanish Languages Reviews (Chile)