Unlace my Syntax

Performance with music, 2022
Radicants, Paris, FR
Wiener Festwochen, Vienna, AT

In Unlace my Syntax Selin Davasse slips into the role of the tamada, a rhetorically adept and hard-drinking master of ceremonies officiating at Georgian banqueting tables. She transposes the socio- political space of the Georgian meal to Pickle Bar, devising a complex interaction ritual revolving around the speech genre of toasting and the communal musicking traditions of Georgian polyphonic singing. Conventionally, the tamada strives to flaunt his rhetorical virtuosity, not to convince or convert, but to reinforce beliefs he presumes to be already held by his audience. In lieu of the traditional ideals of country and family, Selin Davasse’s tamada presupposes her community’s valorization of plurality, solidarity and accountability. Mimicking but also menacing the masculinist tradition of toast-making, this breeches role salutes the sublimated homoeroticism inherent to male-celebratory events by replacing patriotic pathos with queer pride. Interpreting the Georgian meal as an academy where unofficial histories are represented and the tamada as an agent of mythopoetic transmission, she raises her glass to knowledge that is sung, not archived:

Please consider yourselves cordially invited by the mistress of ceremonies. She orchestrates a feast of intertextuality, (institutional) parody and polyphony, reciting titillating poems and parables of queer eros and ecstasy, as her glass overflows with the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea. During this shared ritual, the syrupy rhymes dripping from the toastmaster’s lips, punctuate the spirits the precious guest sips. At a parliament of pickles under the tyranny of toasts, the high-pitched, high- flown tamada with her song, urges the wine and the (radical) wisdom to pass along.

A commission and a production by Wiener Festwochen in collaboration with Pickle Bar

Concept, Text, Performance
Selin Davasse


Hair Design
Henriette Theuergarten

Musical Arrangements
Thee Barall

Leaflet Design
Ozan Şanal (Studio Abo)

Joseph Kadow

Camilla Inge Volbert

Performance leaflet PDF