Adaya Godlevsky

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Released Jun 30, 2016
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Israel Adaya Godlevsky RiskThe 19th installation on Experimental Israel hosts a
wonderfully versatile artist who I take the risk of describing as almost an odd
choice for that which we try to explore. Adaya Godlevsky is a harp player,
singer, composer, installation artist, actress, and yes, improviser, who seems
to encompass all these worlds in her practice, yet isn’t identified with any of
them in particular. Perhaps, by default, she is only really identified with her
unique instrument of choice, the harp. 
Regardless, in the past 2 years I have mainly encountered Godlevsky in
her role as improviser. This is a practice she seems to partake in with a
knowing conviction, and accordingly, she is not a stranger to ensemble playing
with the main protagonists in the Israeli scene, as well as the international
one. Godlevsky reveals her ongoing attempt in pairing herself in “strange”
pairings, and a specific fascination for pairings with electronics – both, as a
means to veer away from the ingrained “sweetness” of the harp.  Godlevsky hails from the religiously infused Jerusalem, and indeed a
religious family, although parades no affiliation to such observances these
days. She started her training in classical (concert or pedal) harp as a teen
only to give it up around her army service at 18. Later she trains as an
actress in the illustrious Nissan Nativ Actors’ Studio, and commences a career
as actress. Soon, however, guided by her biographical narrative, we are
introduced to what I see as the main facet of her character – the need for
change. As an actress, Godlevsky finds herself drawn more and more to fringe
theatre and multidisciplinary practices. It’s as if pure acting as a practice
didn’t manage to satisfy her artistic needs, and it is this same hunger that
leads Godlevsky quite seamlessly back to harp playing. At this point Godlevsky
puts on the analysts hat and suggest that the initial choice of the harp as her
main instrument shows, in itself, how important it always was for her to be
special. Hence, returning to the harp was a means to colour her multidisciplinarity
with a shade of her own. Soon after, singing is admitted into her performances
as well, and the picture of the artist we know today begins to crystallise.The return to harp playing brought with it a fascination with
improvisation, which for Godlevsky was also a means to compensate for the scant
repertoire available for the instrument. I suggest that this must have not been
the first time Godlevsky improvises, as surely the thespian practice includes
improvisatory didactics. Godlevsky agrees, yet suggest that text and stage work,
at large, allow an organic space for improvisation, as the moment must, by
default, define many aspects of such a performance. In fact, installation,
tells us Godlevsky, shifts most of the performance’s weight towards the moment
as the defining criterion of the event. Experimentation, tells us Godlevsky, is a means to advance oneself artistically.
More so – Godlevsky recognizes experimentation and emotions as an intertwined
array, in which the emotional spectrum always takes the forefront. “Every
repeat performance is an experiment,” says Godlevsky. “Giving life to a repeat
performance requires a combined effort of two supposedly contradicting factors:
concentration, and substantial release. Yet there is also a general positive
outlook required for the creation of a secure space, and this means seeing the
seemingly negative as positive, or rather, as an opportunity”. An example for
fertile ground for such risk taking can be seen in installation work, says
Godlevsky. She continues and mentions, in this context, her various
collaborations with her partner, the artist – Uri Levinson, and claims that Levinson
is much more prone towards risk taking, making their mutual work not only
fruitful, but also teeming with the feeling of experimentation.  Looking at a few examples from her practice, one can easily see the
links with experimental practices. Her debut album as composer was followed by
a call to specific artists (and subsequent gallery showing), asking them to
react to her pieces through a different artistic medium. In the launch concert
for her second album, Godlevsky herself played and sang the new compositions –
song that stylistically corresponded with more popular styles. Yet, in almost
complete negation, Godlevsky invited close colleagues and acquaintances to
interject each of these songs with moments of free improvisation, as if saying:
although not on the album, this represents me too! In reaction to her first improv set of the evening, I suggest that many
of her materials seems recognizable to me, as if I’ve already heard them before
in her past sets. Godlevsky doesn’t shy away from this remark, and together we
agree that this aspect raises the interesting question regarding what
constitutes improvisation in the first place? She mentions that she has
practiced for this broadcast, and indeed treats those same known material like
old friends that she revisits when she feels lost during an improvisation.
“It’s always an interesting dialogue with improvisation, as the question can
also be when to insert specific materials, and how much control to exercise
over them”.It is at this point that I ask Godlevsky whether she ever takes risks
such as changing the entire setup of her harp in order to make sure she does
not revert to her known materials, practices and idioms. To this Godlevsky replies
by simply accepting the challenge, and suggests that we try to do just that for
her next set in the studio. And indeed, at the end of our conversation, as I
wrap up the session for our listeners, I can just catch a glimpse of Godlevsky
at the corner of my eye, making quick changes to the levers above each string
of her harp, in effect unrecognizably detuning it for herself. She starts
playing, and though there are still some trademark mannerisms to be found in
her playing, Godlevsky manages to create a sound world that is completely new
to me, and hopefully to her as well. We are notably exhilarated after this
performance, and shortly after are joined by Godlevsky’s partner, Levinson, who
summarises the entire experience: “It was all worth it if only for that last


Instrumental Yes