Earth Hold: "Recent newspaper headlines, as well as social network memes, have made it evident that the performance of US politics and Israeli violence against Gaza’s residents are deeply interconnected. What kind of knowledge can help us move beyond disposable photo-montage to address these implications and entanglements on the geopolitical stage?"
As part of this year’s Palestinian biennial—Qalandiya International—Earth Hold will present Stage 1 of their ongoing research into the aesthetics, problems and possibilities of international solidarity. The underlying focus of their collective research is to explore overlaps between the anti-occupation movement in Palestine and the anti-racism struggle in the North American context. This research is channeled through artistic strategies, forms, conversations, and ideas—that is, the aesthetic or dramaturgical sides of political movements.
Stage 1, at Gasworks, will workshop this material through a set of presentations and discussion, with films by Sky Hopinka, Lydia Moyer, Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Basma Alsherif, and talks by Earth Hold and Julian Henriques. The program will follow two lines of enquiry: the aesthetics of radical-midwifery in North America; and the historic and contemporary political potential of communication technology in Palestine. The event seeks to yield resonances across these two themes, and lay a groundwork or ‘script’ for an exhibition in October, to coincide with Qalandiya International’s opening in Palestine. On these themes Earth Hold write:
Needless to say, the politics of reproduction are at the core of any ideological paradigm (think of the contested nature of abortion, gender inequality, queer futurism, and reproduction as a metaphor for the continuation of any political agenda). The midwife then is a custodian of these biopolitics. The birth of a child during Standing Rock signalled a watershed moment, in the most profound sense of the call that ‘water is life’. Life was proven, life was given (from water and amniotics, with water, in water). What can we learn and share from this articulation of biopolitical aesthetics? Of birth as protest? Of life as struggle, or struggle as life? Of radical midwifery and the custodians of political movement?
Technologies of communication in Palestinian resistance:
Telecommunications control and mass surveillance constitute the bedrock of Israeli occupation. The paternalistic colonial desires behind Palestine’s first radio—initiated by the British Mandate government in 1936—have today transmuted into universal Israeli access to Palestinian phone lines, enabling extrajudicial house demolition (among other violences). Residents in Gaza receive phone calls informing them that they have 5 minutes before their house will be destroyed, with a warning bomb (or ‘roof knock’) driving this home before the full missile hits. In Lebanon, which boasts one of the slowest internet connections in the world, Hezbollah has laid hundreds of miles of fibre-optic cable, granting them hard-to-hack web networks, and a private phone system that evade Israeli wire-jamming. Unit 8200, a secret communications and intelligence branch of the Israeli military, acts as a feeder school for the global technology industry. The occupation is a testing ground for innovations that become the apps which drive our daily lives. This research seeks to lay out the complex ways in which telecommunications technology is imbricated in the apparatus of occupation, and in a year when West Bank Palestinians received access to 3G for the first time, explore how it is being harnessed as a tool for resistance.
Sonic Solidarities: presented by Professor Julian Henriques
This talk explores some of the potentials of thinking-through-sounding for understanding and facilitating political solidarity across continents. It takes two apparently contrasting auditory environments: the Jamaican dancehall sound system session and the auditory world of the foetus before birth as explored in Henriques’ Sonic Womb project. The example of Sky Bird Black Owl’s birthing of Mni at Standing Rock, Dakota pipeline resistance camp speaks to these two apparently different scales of sounding, one apparently social, the other apparently individual. It uses this comparison to explore some of the parameters and qualities of audition as a way of understanding the world, as these may be contrasted with visual epistemologies and those based in text and the Enlightenment, colonial and engineering (Information Theory) power structures underpinning them. It then makes mention of some of the alternatives that thinking-through-sounding offers, such as shared experience-in-common/s, rather than private property ownership, embodied non-representational meaning and power-with, rather than power-over as the basis of solidarity.
Sky Hopinka, Dislocation Blues, 2017, 16’57
Basma Al-Sharif, Deep Sleep, 2014, 12’44
Lydia Moyer, The Forcing (No. 1), 2016, 11’06
Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Language Gulf in the Shouting Valley, 2013, 14’24
Earth Hold is an interdisciplinary research collective – its core members are Rachel Dedman, Lorde Selys and Arjuna Neuman. The collective has collaborated with organizations like Navel, LA, and Mansion, Beirut, and worked with artists such as Adam Feldmuth, Heather O’Brien and Louis Henderson.
Professor Julian Henriques is convenor of the MA Scriptwriting and the MA Cultural Studies programmes, director of the Topology Research Unit and a co-founder of the Sound System Outernational practice research group in the Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London. Prior to this, Julian ran the film and television department at CARIMAC at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. His credits as a writer and director include the reggae musical feature film Babymother and We the Ragamuffinshort. Julian researches street cultures, music and technologies and is interested in the uses of sound as a critical and creative tool. His sound sculptures include Knots & Donuts (2011) at Tate Modern and his books include Changing the Subject (1998), Sonic Bodies (2011) and Sonic Media (Duke, UP, forthcoming).
Sky Hopinka was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, and Portland, Oregon and is currently based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Portland he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His work centers around personal positions of homeland and landscape, designs of language and facets of culture contained within, and the play between the accessibility of the known and the unknowable. He received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an artist and audio investigator. Abu Hamdan’s interest with sound and its intersection with politics originate from his background as a touring musician and facilitator of DIY music. The artist’s audio investigations have been used as evidence at the UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and as advocacy for organisations such as Amnesty International and Defence for Children International. The artist’s forensic audio investigations are conducted as part of his research for Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths College London where he received his PhD in 2017. Abu Hamdan is the author of the artist book [inaudible] : A politics of listening in 4 acts. Abu Hamdan was the recipient of the 2018 Abraaj group art prize, his film Rubber Coated Steel, 2016, won the Tiger short film award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2017 and his exhibition Earshot at Portikus Frankfurt (2016) won him the 2016 Nam June Paik Award for new media. Abu Hamdan was 2017/2018 guest of the DAAD Kunstler Program in Berlin and the 2015-17 fellow at the Vera List Centre for Art and Politics at the New School in New York. His solo exhibitions include Hammer Museum L.A (2018), Portikus Frankfurt (2016), Kunsthalle St Gallen (2015), Beirut in Cairo (2013), The Showroom, London (2012), Casco, Utrecht (2012). His works are part of collections at MoMA, Guggenheim, Van AbbeMuseum, Centre Pompidou and Tate Modern.
Lydia Moyer is a visual artist and media maker who lives and works in central Virginia where she is an associate professor at the University of Virginia. Moyer directs the new media program in the art department at UVA, where she has taught since 2006 after completing an MFA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005. Her work approaches documentary concerns through the lens of art, collecting and manipulating archival, appropriated and original material to play with the premise of non-fiction. Recent projects – including Paradise, a feature-length investigation of American landscapes – focus on the relationship between landscape and culture with a particular emphasis on how human stories are written (and erased) on the land. Having studied traditional printmaking as an undergraduate at the New York State School of Art and Design at Alfred, she continues to move between book-making using digital tools and video. Writing has become an important part of her creative practice and most of her work involves either written or spoken text.
Her work has been shown widely in festivals and galleries including The European Media Arts Festival in Osnabruck, Germany; The Impakt Festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands; video-dumbo in Brooklyn; the PDX Festival in Portland, Oregon; the Black Maria Festival in Jersey City; Printed Matter in New York City and the Center for Book and Paper at Columbia College in Chicago. In addition to her individual practice, she makes work under the name Hateful with artist Tory Wright and is an active member of the Printmaker’s Left, an international group of artists that produces collaborative books, the most recent of which, Hinterlands, a prototype for life beyond t was completed in January 2015.
Basma Al-Sharif is a visual artist using moving and still images, sound, and language, to explore the anonymous individual in relation to political history and collective memory. She received an MFA from the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois, Chicago in 2007 and has been working in Cairo, Beirut, and Amman since then. Her work has shown in exhibitions and film festivals internationally including the 17th SESC Videobrasil, Forum Expanded: Berlinale, Images Festival Ontario where she received the Marion McMahon Award, Manifesta 8 The Region of Murcia, The Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, The 9th Edition of the Sharjah Bienniale where she received a jury prize for her work, the Toronto International Film Festival, and she was awarded the Fundación Marcelino Botín Visual Arts Grant in 2009-2010.
Rachel Dedman (b.1989, London) is an independent curator and writer based in Beirut since 2013. Recent projects include exhibitions and writing for the Palestinian Museum, Sursock Museum, Saradar Collection, Dar el-Nimer, Beirut Art Center, the Transart Triennial (Berlin), and Fotopub (Slovenia). She is the co-founder of Polycephaly, a collective exploring intersections between art and politics, and member of Mansion, Beirut. Rachel has written for Ibraaz, Reorient, and Spike, among others, and has received grants and scholarships from Independent Curators International, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture and the Getty Foundation. She studied History of Art at St John’s College, Oxford, and was the Von Clemm Fellow at Harvard University, specialising in Islamic art history and contemporary art from the Middle-East.
Arjuna Neuman was born on an airplane, that’s why he has two passports. He is an artist, filmmaker and writer. With recent presentations at Berlin Biennial 10, Germany; Bold Tendencies, London, UK; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Istanbul Modern, Turkey; MAAT and Docslisboa, Portugal; Sharjah Biennial 13, UAE; Bergen Assembly, Norway; at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore; the 56th Venice Biennale and SuperCommunity; Industry of Light, London; the Haus Der Kulturen der Welt; at Ashkal Alwan and the Beirut Art Centre, Lebanon; Le Gaite Lyric, Paris; the Canadian Centre for Architecture; and the Rat School of Art, Seoul amongst others. As a writer he has published essays in Relief Press, Into the Pines Press, The Journal for New Writing, VIA Magazine, Concord, Art Voices, Flaunt, LEAP, Hearings and e-flux.
Lorde Selys (b. 1986, Geneva) is an artist and researcher working collaboratively with words, screens, lenses, multi-definitions of space, their users and inhabitants. Her work, including screenings, performances and exhibitions was presented in Brussels at Etablissements d’en Face (2018), Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts (2016) and De La Charge (2015), in Beirut at Ashkal Alwan, 98Weeks, CCF, Beirut Art Center (2014-2011), in Paris at Palais de Tokyo (2014), No Found Photo Fair (2012) in Warsaw at Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski (2015); in Ancona at Mediterranea16 (2016), in Bergen at Hardbakka Ruins (2016), in Berlin at Al Film Festival (2015) and in Ramallah at Al-Mahatta Gallery, Benjamin in Palestine (2009-2015). She holds an MFA from ENSAV-La Cambre (Brussels, 2010) and took part in the Ashkal Alwan Home Works Program (Beirut, 2013-14). From 2006-2010, she was scripting, acting and filming with the Aether9 group, an online transnational platform for digital story-telling and real-time performing. In 2014 and 2015, she worked as an assistant at ARP (Artistic Research Practices) with Paola Yacoub at the Lebanese Art Academy (ALBA). She is currently writing on human versus non-human logics of memory, their dramaturgic and political form of cohabitation in the frame of a research in Visual Culture at Goldsmith College, London.