note_18 On the work Abu Dhabi banned from Sharjah (Biennial) 2019? #DXB

Gold-tips in Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Marina (GM-A, 2013)

Gold-tips in Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Marina (GM-A, 2013).

(EXTRACT)

IMBECILIC CONTINGENT INTRUSION(4)*

Everything we know about ourselves and our various shared and not well-shared histories affirms that systems of hermetic control never work for long, that consolidation hastens collapse. The more autocratic the regime, the messier the collapse. I will leave all of that to time, which will operate unerringly.

Meanwhile, to demonstrate a simple truth, we are going to plant a forest in DXB’s Terminal 3. It’s easy. Those of us who know the place will return from various ports in carefully staged flights that betray no joint venture. We will all be either prevented from getting on a flight, stopped at and detained at DXB, or held in the Deportees Room for some hours. Two of us at least will get in—to the airport, not the country!—and overlap in the Room on ROLEX time. We will take our allotted hour to find food in the Terminal and head up to our Costa rendezvous. We will have seeds of trees with us. We will be carrying gorgeous presentation boxes of fertilised roals or figs, like the kind from Aliya Dates Farm that I recall from a leather-lined yacht in Abu Dhabi’s Palace Marina.

Gifts, you see. Gifts of the Rolla tree, the put-upon-banyans, these potent embodiments of hopes, wishes and dreams for change.

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And we will plant, wherever we find soil in the Terminal. Where the palms grow in the great halls, where floral displays are within reach, in the two potted plants in the Deportees Room itself.

I will enjoy reaching my hands underneath the glass partition in the Security Office to plant rebellion right under the fixed visages of the two Shaikhs at the rear of the room. These seeds will grow into ‘soldiers’ protecting new qasrs which are closer to the Palestinian farmer’s shelter in the wadi than the thunking spectacle of the new Ruler’s Palace at the end of the corniche in Abu Dhabi.

The point is to document the planting on film; soiled fingers, hasty thrusting and smoothing over, in mirrored halls under ROLEX time and meaningless ads for connectedness. Then to share that harmless but insurrectionary ‘poor’ imagery with the best generational minds out there at Sharjah’s 2019 Biennial and beyond.

***

8:01

“We are out of uae.

‘Out’ 😉

WE HAVE FOOTAGE

Brother ‘Costa’ received his gift and promises more…”

  • (FN 46) This refers to a short series of texts called ‘Imbecilic Contingent Intrusions’, a phrase lifted from Slavoj Zizek, The Plague of Fantasies, London: Verso, 1997, p. 129. I exhibited ICI (two) with Cerith Wyn Evans’ neon Lacanian loop in an exhibition titled Essential Things, Robert Prime Gallery, London, July 1999 (all the texts were published on a then ‘special’ CD-ROM edition).

Excerpted from the end of Tales From The Deportees Room: Porting One (DXB), Guy Mannes-Abbott, July 2018, DI’VAN 4.

____________________

 

Otobong Nkanga and Emeka Ogbeh SAF

Otobong Nkanga and Emeka Ogboh’s Aging Ruins Dreaming Only to Recall the Hard Chisel from the Past (SAF, 2019).

One of notably few critical responses to 2019’s Biennial is this one online by Melissa Gronlund for Art/AgendaSharjah Biennial 14: “Leaving the Echo Chamber”. She writes; “Other biennial-size works stared down the spectacular and stopped it in it tracks. The standout work was Otobong Nkanga and Emeka Ogboh’s Aging Ruins Dreaming Only to Recall the Hard Chisel from the Past (2019). It tells the story of a palm tree addicted to drinking salt water, that consequently shrivels and dies … as the tree calls to children to sing for rain … a large-scale commission like this one is a reminder of why the exhibition form persist.” (Let’s hope for much more critical engagement, otherwise Abu Dhabi will have succeeded in killing off not only all forms of mild dissent but also curiosity more broadly; what survives the closure of mind and mouth… )

The original Porting One (Sharjah) was not destined for the Biennial (beware the fictive!), but its contracted Production Award (2016, SAF/Gov’t of Sharjah) was intended for production/exhibition in 2017/18, a large-scale visual-performative work using the rolla tree, film, voice, and otherwise uncannily related to the kinds of thematics and spatial/other qualities above. Too dangerous for insecure autocrats in Abu Dhabi…

 

note_17 On Khaled Khalifa’s Death is Hard Work; ‘Undead, what and who will you defend and nurture as your world drowns?’

KK Death is

Death is Hard Work, Khaled Khalifa

(Trans; Leri Price. Pub/UK; Faber)

By Guy Mannes-Abbott

“Death had become hard work. Just as hard as living, in Bolbol’s view.” Abdel Latif al-Salim’s youngest son has promised, “in a rare moment of courage”, to honour his father’s dying wish to be buried with his sister Layla. The retired teacher and belated rebel died of natural causes in a hospital in Damascus when nothing else is natural in the middle of Syria’s uprising. Bolbol triggers the 400 kilometre drive north into Aleppo’s hinterlands, which takes 3 torturous days and ends with maggots climbing the windows of the family minibus.

Death is Hard Work is a huge novel of just 180 pages and the third of Khaled Khalifa’s to appear in English, courtesy of their translator Leri Price. In Praise of Hatred (2008) and No Knives in the Kitchens of this City (2013) were each short-listed for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, with the latter winning a prestigious Mahfouz Medal, and arrived in English in 2014 and 2016 respectively. They were preceded by two further novels, while their author has also written for television in Damascus, where he lives to this day.

Khalifa captured a freighted immobility in all this which his new novel disperses with ferocious intent.

Continue reading “note_17 On Khaled Khalifa’s Death is Hard Work; ‘Undead, what and who will you defend and nurture as your world drowns?’”

note_16 #Rivering 2014-2019 (scraps, almost there…)

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Rivering the Roding started in the mud above; September 2014, as you can see if you scroll to the bottom (this one of many* returns!). These tweets are obviously incidental scraps but they do suggest or ghost if not exactly tell a story (again; bottom up). It’s a story about London, thinking like a river, which requires articulation (#rivering) and for me to show what such ‘thinking’ might be. I am coming in to land (circling back and now very close to the muddy confluence), and yes, you can start to hold your breath. Please 😉 Continue reading “note_16 #Rivering 2014-2019 (scraps, almost there…)”

note_15 On Maria Gabriela Llansol’s The Geography of Rebels in Graz; locating a nonviolent image…

LlansolNonviolence

From the Portuguese original of Llansol’s Geography of Rebels

In lieu of writing critically about Maria Gabriela Llansol’s first ever publication in English; The Geography of Rebels, from Houston’s Deep Vellum, I’m posting this sly reference (below, plus). However, as I said re Mallo, these and some of 2019’s forthcoming books (mostly in translation), call out for serious, passionate, engaged, authoritative responses from writers. I hear the call and am going to be responding again after a long interlude.

Spend a life attempting to capture the resistant poetics of your existence (what/why else?) and you do gain special access to other writing. You’ll see right through most of it, but locate what magic there is, know and observe or instinctively recognise how it is done. It’s all in the writing. If you make original sentences or lines, then you know about each word, each in between, and all their potentialities.

Thus I detect a new Khaled Khalifa (Death is Hard Work: wow!), a forthcoming Vila-Matas, works on Mohamed Makiya or by Yasser Elsheshtawy (temporary cities in an Arabian context), but also intriguing books located more locally by E J Burnett, or Laura Beatty, etc. The call is urgent and easily matched by the urgent response that books pages call a review. Books pages tend to agree on what is important, especially viz work in translation, exceptions are treasured like monsoon rain. I almost always felt differently and it was a significant motivator in paying and generating attention to awkwardness, the resistant or ‘difficult’, complex or subtle, and the ‘foreign’ (work in translation not -generally- otherness filtered in English for the British market -who pull-up at all borders!). No apologies. Continue reading “note_15 On Maria Gabriela Llansol’s The Geography of Rebels in Graz; locating a nonviolent image…”

note_12 Kandahari Cramps? A human fly linking Busheyr, Bandar Abbas, Bhuj in Kachhch and Dubai -of course…

Home of the DRONE Creech_Air_Force_Base_aerial

Desert Terror

Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, 45 miles N of Las Vegas, home of the MQ1 Predator Drone

Five years after writing this short story, Buzz, Buzz, Buzzzzz, it feels timely to share it here (below). It describes drone flights over Herat, Khorasan and Iran’s central plateau across to Bushehr and Bandar Abbas where the drone tracks back east again. I wrote it in the voice of the drone (mad thought obviously), which begins in the kind of (monstrously violent/ deeply racist) formulaic AI-speak of its makers -also in Nevada- but changes when brought down to earth in Iran, as the RQ-170 actually was, where it encounters people and place, face-to-face…

Commissioned in London, written and submitted from Bhuj in Kachhch in December through January 2012-13 -where I was also in March 2003, incidentally, when the declining US Imperium unleashed shock ‘n awe/invasion ‘n occupation on Iraq, making the ground move where I was standing too- to be published and launched at Dubai in March 2013. Continue reading “note_12 Kandahari Cramps? A human fly linking Busheyr, Bandar Abbas, Bhuj in Kachhch and Dubai -of course…”

note_09 “It may require courage (but) take these marvelous essays to heart” Mezzaterra, Ahdaf Soueif

Mezzaterra US Cover GMA Quote Independent

Take these essays at difficult things inside you, let them pulse through your body and mind. And to your heart, yes. It may require more courage – in Britain, in English- than even I conceived in the last months of 2004. Courage and none at all, because these are a range of essays -as the short review below makes very clear.

I’ve been trying to develop a measure of truth in the context of the Persian Gulf and the regime in Abu Dhabi in as universal way as possible from an inventorised location in London and in English. I settled on a millennium-old measure from an Arabic treatise on taste. More on that in links to publications to come, but it reminds me of the increasing difficulty of being able to recognise a Palestinian right to exist in Britain or in English. Continue reading “note_09 “It may require courage (but) take these marvelous essays to heart” Mezzaterra, Ahdaf Soueif”

note_08 From Shumon Basar’s superhuman Couples Format; me on Gertrude & Alice #passionloveandwork

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Screenshot 2018-03-27 22.37.27

Shumon Basar | Couple Format: The Identity Between Love and Work

 

“What was the identity between love and work,

or, the love found in working together?”

 

“Let’s draw focus on their passion: the love and work. The following is from Diana Souhami’s glorious book Gertrude and Alice:

‘“Our pleasure is to do every day the work of that day,’ wrote Gertrude, ‘to cut our hair and not want blue eyes and to be reasonable and obedient … Every day we get up and say we are awake today …’

… So we circle back to The Autobiography of Alice B.Toklas, which wasn’t of course an autobiography. What was it? […] Primarily, it was also an autobiography, but not of Alice. It was a biography: not one authored from outside, but from inside, albeit in another’s voice… I linger with this because while this is one of the most conventional prose-like works of Gertrude’s it is also properly strange. That is, Gertrude adopted Alice’s recognizable voice, exorcising as many Gertrudisms as she could identify, though not all, to write a memoir of her own life and times.”

-extracted from my text/talk COUPLING | Gertrude and Alice | July 2016.

Click through for links to Shumon’s piece and the Superhumanity project above and for the recording of the original event on G&E and Marina Abramovic and Ulay click my Readings_Talks button (where you can click on through to see/hear the other Couple Formats too).