Archiving is not merely documenting. In the aftermath of the Arab uprisings, artists, activists, and others have reverted to archives digging through a past buried under several layers of cultural, political and psychological repression. A symposium about memory, mourning, and forgotten or forbidden narratives.
What remains of the Arab Spring? How do we put resistance into archival form? And how must an archive be designed so that we remember such events in the future?
During the revolutions in the Arab world, large amounts of documentary material were created on social media and by citizen journalists. At the same time, revolutions make it possible to rediscover lost archives and revive narratives that had been politically repressed. The relationship between archives and the political events in the Arab world raises questions. How can horror, how can traditions or biographical experiences be archived? What formal choices do artists make to capture these realities? Archiving thus becomes a political act—because today in particular, the future depends on archiving the present and reflecting on the past.
In lectures, round tables, and films, academics, authors, artists, and filmmakers examine artistic and intellectual articulations of archiving as a political and personal practice. With the artist Yto Barrada, the historian Leyla Dakhli, the poet Iman Mersal, the historian Khaled Fahmy, and many others.
Conceived together with the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), in association with Europe in the Middle East—the Middle East in Europe (EUME), curated by Khaled Saghieh
7–7.30pm | Opening
Bernd Scherer, Rima Mismar, Khaled Saghieh
7.30–8.30pm | Keynote Lecture
Khaled Fahmy: Archiving the Revolution
During the Arab uprisings, practices of archiving and digging in the past waned as documenting the present moment and the violent crackdowns became center-stage. In their aftermath, a reverse dynamic seems to be building up again, as excavation and archival practice are continuously interpreted in registers that evoke resistance.
12 noon–1.30pm | Project Presentations
Leyla Dakhli: Can (subaltern) Archives Speak? Writing History in a Time of Uprisings and Repressions
Sana Yaziji: The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution
Refqa Abu Remaileh: Chasing Palestinian Literary Caravans: On Simultaneity & Wholeness
Moderated by Alia Mossallam
2.30–3.15pm | Artist Talk
Mariam Ghani: The Garden of Forked Tongues
Moderated by Rasha Salti
In the search for a repressed past or marginalized narratives in the aftermath of revolutions, new worldviews emerge, specifically in the context of upheavals.
3.15–4.30pm | Panel
Hanan Toukan: Whatever Happened to “Iltizam”?
Rana Issa: The “Nahda” and its Archives: Literature as a Critical Archival Practice in the Case of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq
Maissan Hassan: Memory and Feminism: Reflections on Women's Archives and Oral History in Egypt
Moderated by Georges Khalil
Documenting horror poses questions pertaining to memory, mourning, and the representational language that artists use to capture the unspeakable and the real. The session will explore the vexed relationship between the documenting and artistic practices that oscillate between the push of aesthetics and the pull of horror.
5–6.30pm | Presentations
Stefan Tarnowski: a few big images and nothing more
Veronica Ferreri: Tasharrud as a State of Permanent Loss
Mustapha Benfodil: My Body is My First Archive
Moderated by Yassin Swehat
7.30–8.30pm | Film Screenings
Today is 11th June 1993 (D: Clarissa Thieme, D / BIH 2018, 15min, Bosnian OV with English subtitles)
When Things Occur (D: Oraib Toukan, Palestine/ UK 2017, 28min, Arabic OV with English subtitles)
8.30– 9.30pm | Reading & Performance
Maisan Hamdan, Ibrahim Mahfouz, Wadia Ferzly, Ahmed Katlish, Mariam Mekiwi, Ghiath Mihithawy, Zena Elabdalla, and Haytham al-Wardany: Writing Catastrophe
Writer Haytham al-Wardany conducted a creative writing workshop in the span of four months around the idea of “writing catastrophe,” with Arab writers and filmmakers who recently moved to Germany and are grappling with questions of loss, trauma and displacement. The performative reading will present selections of texts produced during and after the workshop.
Along with research into print media and the investigation into how past events were recorded, there is a growing interest in the mechanics of print culture as it materializes in the circulation and demise of books, libraries, newspapers, and magazines. These archives are the canvas on which intellectual and social history is projected and interpreted.
12 noon–1.30pm | Presentation
Marwa Arsanios: Embodied Texts, Al-Hilal Magazine
Zeina G. Halabi: Excavating the Self in the Demise of Print Media
Mohammed Shoair: Inside the Libraries of Arab Intellectuals
Moderated by Rima Mismar
In excavating and revisiting biographies of people and places, authors will reflect on their process and the fantasies heaved onto the troubled present moment, as their own lives seep into the narrative arc of others.
2.30–4pm | Film Screening
Erased, ___Ascent of the Invisible (Tirss, Rihlat al-Su’ud ila al-Mar’i) (D: Ghassan Halwani, LIBN 2018, 76 min, Arabic and English OV with English subtitles)
4.30–6pm | Project Presentations
Iman Mersal: In the Footsteps of Enayaat Elzayaat
Ahmed Naji: Intellectuals, the Police, and Adawiyya
Lamia Moghnieh: Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders (Asfuriyeh): A History of Psychiatry, Violence and Society in Lebanon
Moderated by Haytham al-Wardany
In the dystopian present, writers and artists reverted to the past as a means to re-animate and project utopian imaginaries in the present. Using old photographs, family stories, or political propaganda, the search for lost and desired utopias become sites for regenerating imaginaries.
7–7.45pm | Conversation
Marcelo Rezende: How to Build an Anti-Museum?
Moderated by Ruth Noack
7.45–8.30pm | Film Screenings
Tree Identification for Beginners (D: Yto Barrada, M / USA 2017, Digital Video, Color, Sound, 35min, English OV)
Hand-Me-Downs (D: Yto Barrada, M 2011, 8mm, 16mm, Digital Video, Color, Sound, 14min)
8.30–9.30pm | Performance
Yasmina Reggad: We Dreamt of Utopia and We Woke Up Screaming