Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme: Incidental Insurgents – some influences

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme (1)

Part 1, The Part about The Bandits

Films featured either as clips or stills in Incidental Insurgents, Part 1:

Wim Wenders – Paris, Texas, 1984

Jean-Luc Godard – Pierrot Le Fou, 1965

Jean-Luc Godard – Band of Outsiders, 1964

Jean-Luc Godard- Breathless, 1960

Chris Marker – Remembrance of things to Come, 2003

Chris Marker – A Grin Without a Cat, 1977

“The film’s original French title is Le fond de l’air est rouge, which means ‘The essence of the air is red’, and has a subtext similar to the English title, implying that the socialist movement existed only in the air. The title is also a play on words: The original expression in French is ‘Le fond de l’air est frais’, meaning ‘there is a nip in the air’. Chris Marker replaced the last word with ‘rouge’ (red), so the original title translates to There are Reds in the Air.” Courtesy Wikipedia.

“There are still some wolves left” (from A Grin Without a Cat – towards the end)

Solanos and Getino – The Hour of the Furnaces, 1968


Part 2, Unforgiving Years

Films that are among the research materials for Incidental Insurgents, Part 2:

Chris Marker – Sans Soleil, 1983

Guy Debord – Refutation of all the judgments, 1975

Guy Debord – In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni, 1978

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni is a medieval Latin palindrome meaning ‘we turn in the night and are consumed by fire’.

Debord’s films can be found on UBUWEB here.  Sadly, the screening quality of both Refutation of all the judgments and In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni is very poor.  However, the unauthorised translation and clean-up, initiated by Ed Halter, Thomas Beard, and Buyoung Kim, and narrated by Paul Chan, is ok (see UBUWEB page).

Michelangelo Antonioni – Il Deserto Rosso, 1964

Jim Jarmusch – Stranger Than Paradise, 1984

Various Film Makers – Ten Minutes Older: The Cello, 2002

Jean-Luc Godard – La Chinoise, 1967

Jean-Luc Godard – Histoire Du Cinema, 1988

Jean-Luc Godard – Un Film Comme Les Autres, 1968

Jean-Luc Godard – Vivre Sa Vie, 1962

Jean-Luc Godard – In praise of love, 2001

Jean-Luc Godard – Masculin Feminin, 1966


And here’s a few books that are amongst the papers in the installation:

Roberto Bolano – Between Paratheses, 2011

Victor Serge – Resistance, ????

“Victor Lvovich Khibalchich (better known as Victor Serge) was born in Brussels, the son of Russian Narodnik exiles. Originally an anarchist, he joined the Russian Communist Party on arriving in Petrograd in February 1919 and worked for the newly founded Communist International as a journalist, editor and translator. As a Comintern representative in Germany he helped prepare the aborted insurrection in the autumn of 1923. In 1923 he also joined the Left Opposition. He was expelled from the party in 1928 and briefly imprisoned. At this time he turned to writing fiction, which was published mainly in France. In 1933 he was arrested and exiled. After an international campaign he was eventually deported from Russia in April 1936 on the eve of the Moscow Show Trials. Upon arrival in the West he renewed contact with Trotsky but political differences developed and a bitter controversy developed between the two remaining veterans of the pre-Stalinist Russian Communist Party. Escaping from Paris in 1940 just ahead of the invading Nazi troops he found refuge in Mexico. During his last years Serge lived in isolation and died penniless shortly after the 30th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution in November 1947.” Source: Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Adrienne Rich – An Atlas of the Difficult World, 1991

Victor Serge – Unforgiving Years, ????

First published in French 25 years after his death in 1947.  An English translation only became available in 2008.

Paul Gordon – Vagabond Witness: Victor Serge and the politics of hope, 2013

Guy Debord – Panegyric, 1989

khamsin: Journal of Revolutionary Socialists in the Middle East

Victor Serge – Men In Prison, ????

Between 1912 and 1917, Serge was incarcerated in French penitentiaries:  “Everything in this book is fictional and everything is true. I have attempted, through literary creation, to bring out the general meaning and human content of a personal experience.” Victor Serge in the epigraph to Men in Prison.

Chris Kraus – Where Art Belongs, 2011

Greil Marcus – Lipstick Traces, 1989

It’s the updated 2011 edition in the installation.

McKenzie Wark – A Hacker Manifesto, 2004

Victor Serge – Birth of Our Power, ????

Composed, a decade after the revolution, in Leningrad, where Serge was living in semi-captivity because of his declared opposition to Stalin’s dictatorship over the revolution.

The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection, 2007


photo(1)From The Coming Insurrection, The Invisible Committee


A Diversion … to Elena Ferrante

“I grew up with the idea that if I didn’t let myself be absorbed as much as possible into the world of eminently capable men, if I did not learn from their cultural excellence, if I did not pass brilliantly all the exams that world required of me, it would have been tantamount to not existing at all. Then I read books that exalted the female difference and my thinking was turned upside down. I realized that I had to do exactly the opposite: I had to start with myself and with my relationships with other women—this is another essential formula—if I really wanted to give myself a shape. Today I read everything that emerges out of so-called postfeminist thought. It helps me look critically at the world, at us, our bodies, our subjectivity. But it also fires my imagination, it pushes me to reflect on the use of literature. I’ll name some women to whom I owe a great deal: Firestone, Lonzi, Irigaray, Muraro, Caverero, Gagliasso, Haraway, Butler, Braidotti.”
“I hold that male colonization of our imaginations—a calamity while ever we were unable to give shape to our difference—is, today, a strength. We know everything about the male symbol system; they, for the most part, know nothing about ours, above all about how it has been restructured by the blows the world has dealt us. What’s more, they are not even curious, indeed they recognize us only from within their system.”
Thanks to Sarah Shin at verso for sending the quotes (hence, not sure of the ultimate source).

One Thing Leads To Another

Chris Marker, Stopover In Dubai, (2011)

“[Chris Marker’s] late short video Stopover in Dubai is the most minimal effective gesture: it’s the film produced by the Dubai State Security service, of found CCTV footage tracking the assassins on their way to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room. All Marker has done is change the soundtrack, adding the first three movements of Henryk Górecki’s ‘String Quartet No. 3’: the dark adagio as the team assembles, drifting in and out of shopping centres; the profound gloom of the second movement, as the circle inexorably closes and the doomed man goes to his hotel room under the watchful eye of the surveillance group; and the escalating frenzy of the allegro as the work is done and the killers scatter.” From Chris Marker’s obituary in Radical Philosophy November/December 2012.

Emily Jacir Europa at Whitechapel Gallery

“Winner of a Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, Material for a film (2004–ongoing) is a large-scale, immersive installation based on the life of Palestinian writer Wael Zuaiter who was assassinated near his home in Rome by Israeli Mossad agents in 1972. Jacir reimagines chapters of Zuaiter’s life through materials unearthed by the artist including family photographs, correspondence and documents relating to his death.” From the catalogue accompanying Emily Jacir’s solo exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, London.

EmilyJacirPhoto“Wael Zwaiter / وائل زعيتر‎ ( 2 January 1934 – 16 October 1972) was a Palestinian translator assassinated as the first target of Israel’s Operation Wrath of God campaign following the 1972 massacre at the Munich Olympics. Israel considered Zwaiter a terrorist for his role in the Black September Group, while his supporters argue that he was “never conclusively linked” with Black September or the Munich massacre and was killed in retribution…[more here]” Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Eric Baudelaire, The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 years without images, (2011)

Trailer for Eric Baudelaire‘s film The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years without Images (2011)

“Who are May and Fusako Shigenobu? Fusako — leader of an extremist left-wing faction, the Japanese Red Army, involved in a number of terrorist operations — has been in hiding in Beirut for almost 30 years. May, her daughter, born in Lebanon, only discovered Japan at the age of twenty-seven, after her mother’s arrest in 2000. And Masao Adachi? A screenwriter and radical activist filmmaker, committed to armed struggle and the Palestinian cause, was also underground in Lebanon for several decades before being sent back to his native country. In his years as a film director, he had been one of the instigators of a ‘theory of landscape’ — fukeiron: through filming landscapes, Adachi sought to reveal the structures of oppression that underpin and perpetuate the political system. Anabasis? The name given, since Xenophon, to wandering, circuitous homeward journeys.

“It is this complicated, dark, and always suspenseful story that Eric Baudelaire — an artist renowned for using photography as a means of questioning the staging of reality — chose to bring forth using the documentary format. Filmed on Super 8 mm, and in the manner of fukeiron, contemporary panoramas of Tokyo and Beirut are blended in with archival footage, TV clips and film excerpts as backdrop for May and Adachi’s voices and memories. They speak of everyday life, of being a little girl in hiding, of exile, politics and cinema, and their fascinating overlap. All of which adds up not so much to an enquiry as a fragmented anamnesis.” Jean-Pierre Rehm (from the FID Marseille catalog).

The film is accompanied by a fascinating publication that’s available for free here from ISSUU (courtesy of Eric).

Jumana Manna – A magical substance flows into me (2015)

JM-WEB-04Courtesy Chisenhale and Jumana Manna

Jumana’s wonderful, inspiring, important new film forms the centrepiece of her first UK solo exhibition at Chisenhale, London.  The exhibition guide includes an Katie Guggenheim, Exhibitions and Events curator at Chisenhale, interviewing Jumana.

“I chose not to emphasise borders, in terms of what is Palestinian territory and what is Israel given that Lachmann’s radio programme took place before the partition of Palestine. I thought of Lachmann’s programme as radio waves spilling out across a territory, defining a certain polity, and participating in shaping the territory. In a sense, when making the film, I physically follow those waves. I follow the path of Lachmann’s research, performing the radio
waves as I travel to the different parts of the country bringing the recordings on my smart phone to where these groups live – even more segregated today than before. In this way, the structure of the work expresses both the loss of that political space –historical Palestine – but also my effort to retrieve it. This labor, and the traversal of various borders are not to idealise the period of the British Mandate, but rather to provide a space from which another Palestine can be imagined. It is part of my interest in going beyond the logic of segregation and separation. This paradigm of partition, the two-state solution that is still the prevalent one for Israel/Palestine is, I believe, no longer realistic or appropriate. It neutralises history by underestimating the pre-1948 realities, and is dysfunctional in the present conditions of the occupation. This is a big discussion, but essentially, given the increasing intertwinements – even if they are asymmetrical and devastating – resulting from the colonial expansion of
Israeli settlements in the West Bank, it is becoming increasingly impossible to imagine two separated states. Part of the decision to ignore borders in the film is also part of my interest in a long-term one-state, bi-national solution. Moreover, Israel is the only recognised state in the world that doesn’t have borders, so why would I adhere to the ones it imposes?” Jumana Manna.

The interview can be downloaded from the Chisenhale website here.

On your way back from, or on your way to, Chisenhale don’t forget to visit Emily Jacir’s exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery:


Odds & Ends VII – Feminist Origins and Body Anxiety

VDB TV – The Feminist Origins

“In April 1974, Video Data Bank co-founders Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield conducted their first interview, an in-depth conversation with art historian and curator Marcia Tucker. During the remainder of that year, Blumenthal and Horsfield went on to interview four more notable art world women: Joan Mitchell, Lucy Lippard, Agnes Martin and Ree Morton.  Seen together, these five interviews mark a seminal moment in the history of 20th Century art, a moment in which women artists were increasingly being asked to define and position their practice within the growing feminist movement… [read more and watch the interviews here].

Body Anxiety – an internet exhibition

“Body Anxiety shares the varied perspectives of artists who examine gendered embodiment, performance and self-representation on the internet. Throughout art and film history, the female body and nude has been an ongoing subject in male-authored work. More often than not, the woman’s body is capitalized on in these works while their voice is muted. From the Seventies onwards, female artists employed video and performance to reclaim their bodies from this art historical trajectory. Today, artists use the internet as a platform to create and share their own imagery. While appropriation might be a common practice in contemporary art, using the internet as gender-queer performative space allows artists to question contemporary attitudes towards femininity. In “Body Anxiety” Schrager and Chan have selected a collection of female-empowering artworks to present in one single location in hopes of reshaping pre-existing narrative of gendered appropriation… [read more and view the exhibition here]”.

“Think of sex-divided wash-rooms and fashion stores.  Public spaces are gendered spaces; the web is gendered space. Once you reveal yourself to be a female-identified user, people treat you like one. On the internet I cannot escape who I really am, I can only abandon my body.  The internet has allowed women and gender-queer people to  reinvent and explore sexual identities by sharing self-imagery that radically differ from the limited versions of femininity seen in pop culture.”  From Jennifer Chan’s essay, How We Become Objects, that accompanies the exhibition (read more here).

Courtesy of curators Jennifer Chan and Leah Schrager, and artists Alexandra Marzella, Andrea Crespo, Angela Washko, Ann Hirsch, Aurorae Parker, Endam Nihan, Erika Alexander, Faith Holland, Georges Jacotey, Hannah Black, Kate Durbin, Marie Karlberg, Mary Bond, May Waver, Nancy Leticia, Rachel Rabbit White, Leah Schrager, RaFia Santana, Randon Rosenbohm, Saoirse Wall, Victoria Campbell.

“Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behaviour. It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of generalised dread over anticipated events. Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is a response to a specific real or perceived immediate threat; whereas anxiety is the expectation of a future more generalised threat.  Anxiety can be appropriate, but when experienced regularly the individual may suffer from an anxiety disorder that severely impacts upon behaviour and feelings of well being.” Adapted from Wikipedia.

Courtesy of Ann Hirsch.

Shulasmith Firestone – The Dialectic of Sex: the case for feminist revolution

In this ground breaking text from 1970, Shulasmith offers a radical view of the second wave feminist movement for social equality.  Her aim is to break free from oppressive power structures set up by nature and enforced by men.  In true manifesto-style, the book’s final chapter makes four demands:

1.The freeing of women from the tyranny of their reproductive biology by every means available, and the diffusion of the childbearing and childrearing role to the society as a whole, men as well as women.

2.The full self-determination, including economic independence, of both women and children.

3.The total integration of women and children into all aspects of the larger society

4. The freedom of all women and children to do whatever they wish sexually.

The Dialectic of Sex has recently been republished by Verso.

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time on Feminism

With Dr Helena Cronin, Co-director of the Centre for the Philosophy of the Natural and Social Sciences, London School of Economics; Dr Germaine Greer, Professor of English and Comparative Studies, Warwick University.  Listen here.

Critical Perspectives on Pornography – an episodic internet essay

“As a change from single-screen films, this week’s CarrollFletcherOnscreen brings together a series of URLs that link to a selection of films, performances, texts and websites that critically reflect on pornography as an industry, as a literary and film genre and as a pervasive part of everyday life…[here].”

Thanks to Susan Sontag, Omer Fast, Joshua Cohen, Addie Wagenknecht, Ann Hirsch, Lora Hristova and Faith Holland.

Courtesy of Faith Holland.  Original video can be seen in situ here: