AESTHETICS OF THE POLITICAL: CHAPTER ONE
JUNE 14&15, 2020
@ BOZAR CINEMA
‘Aesthetics of the Political’ is a two-day pilot program that takes the time to look closely at the critical language, and forms of resistance in artistic work. Over the course of two days, artists and audiences will watch films, engage in a dinner-table performance, and participate in curated discussions. Together we will reflect on the choices artists make in their work when engaging with politically charged materials, and different colonial contexts. These conversations will be stimulated with the thought-provoking talk ‘Cruel Images’ by Oraib Toukan, in which she reflects on our position as ‘consumers’ of images of war. Meanwhile, Mirna Bamieh’s project ‘The Palestinian Hosting Society’ invites people around the dinner table, in a performance that explores disappearing food cultures as a consequence of colonialism. And remotely, via an online conversation, Ogutu Muraya will push us to think about ‘The Politics of the Invitation’, and consider the way coloniality is structurally embedded in the presentation of artists of colour in programs around Europe.
Participating artists: Samah Hijawi, Oraib Toukan, Maxime Jean-Baptiste, Mirna Bamieh, Miguel Peres dos Santos, Ogutu Muraya, Sabine Groenewegen and Sandra Heremans.
This program is curated and moderated by artist and researcher Samah Hijawi, and is organized together with Susanne Weck for SoundImageCulture (SIC).
In partnership with Chair Mahmoud Darwich, and BOZAR Cinema, PianoFabriek, Kunstenwerkplaats Pianofabriek. Supported by Sabam for Culture.
June 15, 2020, BOZAR - Studio and Rotunda Bertouille
14:30-17:30pm Film Projections and facilitated conversation
'When Things Occur' by Oraib Toukan (28mins)
'There are no more images’ by Miguel Peres dos Santos (14mins)
‘Odyssey’ by Sabine Groenewegen (70mins)
18:15-19:15pm Talk followed by facilitated conversation
Oraib Toukan ‘Cruel Images’
19:30-22:30pm Dinner Table Performance
‘Palestinian Hosting Society’ dinner table by Mirna Bamyieh
JUNE 14, BOZAR - Terarken
16:00-16:30pm Samah Hijawi, excerpt from the performance Godefroid de Bouillon;
the Bastard Son of Antara Bin Shaddad
17:00-18:30pm Visual Criticality in Kouté vwa, fragments for a discussion with
18:30-19:00 Break to grab drinks and snacks
20:30-22:00pm ‘The Politics of the Invitation’ with Ogutu Muraya (remotely via skype)
And a reflective conversation with Sandra Heremans on the key concepts, terms, and ideas that came out of the two days.
Information about the works and artists bios
(Germany) Oraib Toukan ‘When Things Occur’ (2017)
28mins, Arabic with English subtitles
When Things Occur is based on Skype conversations with Gaza inhabitants who were behind the images that were transmitted from screen to screen in the summer of 2014. The film probes the face of mourning and grief—its digital embodiment, transmission, and representation. It asks how the gaze gets channeled within the digital realm, and how empathy travels. What exactly is viewing suffering ‘at a distance’? What is the behavior and political economy of the image of war? And who is the ‘local’ in the representation of war?
Oraib Toukan is an artist and EUME fellow at the Forum Transregional Studien in Berlin. She holds a PhD in Fine Arts from Oxford University, Ruskin School of Art. Until Fall 2015, she was head of the Arts Division and Media Studies program at Bard College at Al Quds University, Palestine and was visiting faculty at the International Academy of Fine Arts in Ramallah. Between 2015 and 2017 she taught at the Ruskin School of Art’s University of Oxford Graduate Teaching program. In Autumn 2018 she was Mercator fellow at the Cultures of Critique program at Leuphana University, Lüneburg. Toukan is author of Sundry Modernism: Materials for a Study of Palestinian Modernism (Sternberg Press, 2017), and the essay-film When Things Occur (2016). Her writings have appeared in a number of publications, collected works, and biennale readers. Since 2011 she has been analyzing, and remaking works from a found collection of film reels that once-belonged to now-dissolved Soviet cultural centers in Jordan in 1990-1991.
(The Netherlands) Miguel Peres dos Santos ‘The are no more images’ (2016)
Portuguese with English subtitles, 13'51”.
A proposal on a reflection upon a possible link between image and memory; between image and moment; and between image and death. A father, a son and a dead child engage in a monologue constructed departing from a moment : “does an image die?”; “and if an image dies”… “what will happen to memory?”
Miguel Peres dos Santos (°1976, Lisbon, Portugal) is an artist who works in a variety of media. By emphasizing aesthetics, Peres dos Santos reflects on the closely related subjects of archive and memory. His artworks sometimes radiate a cold and latent violence. At times, disconcerting beauty emerges. Moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama in order to clarify our existence and to find poetic meaning in everyday life. His works demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century.
(Belgium) Maxime Jean-Baptiste Kouté vwa (listen to the voices)
28 mins Creole with English subtitles
The Kouté vwa project is based on Maxime’s father’s participation in a French film “Jean Galmot aventurier”, whose script is based on the character of Jean Galmot (1879-1928), as well as the Affaire des Insurgés de Cayenne (1928-1931), a historical event that involved the radicalization of the Guyanese people, an uprising, a long trial and finally the acquittal of the accused. Today, Maxime is wondering about this colonial representation in which his father was an extra. The project intertwines micro-histories specific to the former participants of the film, to descendants of the real facts, as well as members of Maxime’s family.
Maxime Jean-Baptiste (1993° FR) is a director and performer based in Brussels and Paris. Having lived in the context of the Guyano-Antillean diaspora in France, a French mother and a Guyanese father, his work as an artist sees himself as an exploration of the complexity of Western colonial history by detecting the survival of past traumas in the present. Her audiovisual and performative work focuses on portraits (artists, dancers or members of her own family) using the form of reenactment to conceive the potentiality of a living and oralized memory. He obtained a Bachelor's degree in Visual Arts at the erg and a Master's degree in Media Arts at K.A.S.K. School of arts (Ghent, BE).
(UK) Sabine Groenewegen, Odyssey (2018)
71 minutes, Dutch, Sranan Tongo, English with English subtitles
Two undefined intelligences are intercepting earthly footage of humans living in an area known as the LowLands. The researchers exchange their findings through a visual feed, in an attempt to understand the occurrence of extraordinary apparitions. The onlookers’ efforts to understand an enchanted human world are interrupted by another signal which imposes itself on the unfolding investigation, resulting in a play with the logic of the production of meaning. Through a combination of found footage, sci-fi and poetry, Odyssey interrogates the visual rhetoric of whiteness in the specific Dutch colonial project and evokes questions about the stories we are told, and our possibilities to disrupt them.
Sabine Groenewegen is an artist working with moving image, collage, and immersive experiences. She is currently exploring the ways in which the experiences of our ancestors are part of our present and future psychobiological reality.
(Palestine) Mirna Bamieh Palestinian hosting society
Palestine Hosting Society is a live-art project founded and run by artist/cook Mirna Bamieh in which she seeks to examine the culture of food in Palestine that aims to construct and reconstruct their relationships to place, history, society and politics, through food. The research unfolds through eating, reading, and conversation. The research develops into culinary interventions that unpack social concerns and limitations vis-à-vis contemporary political dilemmas, reflecting upon the conditions that characterise contemporary Palestinian communities.
Mirna Bamieh is an artist from Jerusalem/ Palestine. She obtained a B.A in Psychology from Birzeit University in Ramallah (2002-06). M.F.A. in Fine Arts at Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design in Jerusalem (2011-2013). Ashkal Alwan HomeWorks study program in Beirut (2013/14). Her work attempts to understand and contemplate the ever-shifting politics, while equally questioning notions of land and geographies of in-between temporality. Her work looks at scenarios that take the language of the absurd and the ironic and uses them as tools for political commentary. Currently, she is working on developing works that use the mediums of storytelling, and food for creating situational performances such as: Potato Talks Project, Palestine Hosting Society.
(Belgium) Samah Hijawi, Godefroid of Bouillon: The Bastard Son of Antara Bin-Shaddad (2019)
Lecture Performance, 20mins
A story that jumps through time and across geographies brings the artist and her grandmother in Palestine, together with two well-known European personalities; Godefroid de Bouillon, known as the first king of Jerusalem and the illegitimate son of the famous Arabian poet Antar Bin-Shaddad, and the 16th-century Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel. Time collapses as we travel back and forth across millennia—from Jerusalem, to Brussels, to London, and back to Jerusalem. Following the non-linear hakawati structure of epic story-telling, personalities and images are playfully displaced and re-contextualised in a colonialist history. Using different forms of collage in both the narrative and the images, Hijawi tactfully invites us to look with her at how colonialism is deeply embedded in canonised European artworks.
Samah Hijawi is an artist and researcher currently completing her PhD in Art Practice at ULB and the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, in Belgium. In her multi-media works, she explores the aesthetics of representation in artworks that allude to the histories of Palestine. Her works have been shown at Qattan Foundation, Ramallah; The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels; PS1 Gallery London, Nadine Art Space Brussels, The Hayward Gallery in London; BOZAR and Beursschouwburg in Brussels.
(Kenya) Ogutu Muraya, The Politics of the Invitation-online participation
OGUTU MURAYA (* 1986 in Kenya) is an author, theatre-maker and storyteller. To him, art is an important catalyst for challenging one’s beliefs and for keeping alive the history that is retold in error or which remains hidden from the mainstream. His works have been shown in numerous festivals: among others, at La Mama (NYC), HIFA (Harare), Afrovibes Festival (Amsterdam) or Spielart Festival (Munich).
(Belgium) Sandra Heremans (1989, Rwanda) is an art historian and filmmaker. In her Master theses, she focused on the power and representation of the symbol in the art theory of Aby Warburg. Heremans later discovered experimental film and made her first short The Yellow Mazda and His Holiness (2018).