Online program

Salon für Ästhetische Experimente #18: She smiled as though she were squinting at the future through heavy smoke

Salwa Aleryani, Laleh Khalili, Hira Nabi and Ovül Durmuşoğlu

Mon, Nov 23–Mon, Dec 7, 2020
Mon, Nov 23, 2020
Cancelled, digital version
Free of charge
The event on site at HKW is cancelled due to the current situation.
A digital version of the event is available from November 23 through December 7 at

In English, film with English and Arabic subtitles

Free of charge
Salwa Aleryani: Tribute to a Passerby (ROAMER), 2019, Photo: Manuel Carreon

For some time now, artist Salwa Aleryani has been following infrastructural inaugurations through various means and materials; reading images of foundation laying ceremonies as a hybrid of architecture, monument and sculpture, with a tension of performativity and fragility.

During the last decade, Yemen and its neighboring countries witnessed a surge in foundation laying ceremonies. If anything, a curious moment arose and many foundation stones marking the start of infrastructural projects were laid, sometimes more than once, especially as political powers shuffled. Today much of the same unfolds, against a background of conflict and in the name of reconstruction. Despite the sameness of the scenes, a second glance reveals some differences: old actors evolved, new actors emerged. Occasionally the lone woman in the all-male crowd appears, and “she smiles as though she were squinting at the future through heavy smoke”.

The program presents these interweaving observations, and brings into conversation different artists, writers and thinkers whose work shares similar concerns.

For the revised online program, Hira Nabi’s film, All that Perishes at the Edge of Land (2019) is available online with English and Arabic subtitles from November 23 to December 7. In this docu-fictional film, “Ocean Master” – a container vessel that is anthropomorphized and given a voice of its own – enters into a dialogue with several workers at the ship-breaking yard at Gadani, Pakistan. The conversation moves between dreams and desire, places that can be called home and the structural violence embedded in the act of dismembering a ship at Gadani.

The film also serves as a prelude to a forthcoming written dialogue with Hira Nabi, as well as an audio-recorded conversation between Salwa Aleryani, political scientist Laleh Khalili and curator Övül Durmuşoğlu.