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_13.1 Les Chiens Nauman/ tears in the rain in the context of catastrophe/ DG-F TH.2058

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My young connoisseur -or collector of urgent life-impressions and artful invention- has begun school-life so close to the TM that a liquid-chocolate balm combined with ‘two rooms’ has become a fixture in our lives. In the process, he has elevated El Anatsui to quite a pedestal, but I continue trying my best to broaden his horizons. Bruce’s revolving head, tick, Bruce’s Violent Incident, getting there, Bruce’s dogs, well; there’s time…

not the nauman obvOf course, these are not Les Chiens de Nauman. But those in the Art Room selection reminded me recently of their spirited precedents in Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s TH.2058. I was led there by a number of things; my own work-in-progress (articulating or #Rivering the Roding), and thus echoes of the river-beggaring I did floodplain-to-floodplain in Rotterdam; a ruined world of mud to be embraced with curiosity, reminded of that when receiving Defne Ayas’ archive of her WdeW years; Blessing and Transgressing; A Live Institute, which includes that first use of ‘rivering’ as a way of trying to articulate muddy-footed actualities with urgent recognitions of coming urban life, by a recent taste of DG-F’s work which reminded me of how much there is to enjoy and admire in it (esp. with a clear view of its span), close rubbing-ups against Vila-Matas (about whom much more some day, the writerly intimacies are too elemental. Dostoevsky once more or less literally saved-by-enabling my life, a very long time ago. V-M is a similar interior intimate on an extremely short list). They, as you know, have been working together since 2007 (when only Bartleby & Co, perhaps Montano too had been translated into English), and so I found myself thinking about TH.2058, a work that has remained with me more as a puzzle, or query, than a settled memory, or answer. Continue reading “note_13.1 Les Chiens Nauman/ tears in the rain in the context of catastrophe/ DG-F TH.2058”

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”

on an art of two-sides, mathaf interference at ICA

Shumon Basar and Jack Persekian Wash Hands…

Jack Persekian’s performance of Nablus Soap at the ICA, as part of the Mathaf’s Interference weekend, was brilliant.

The work takes off from a show he put on with Mona Hatoum back in the early days in Jerusalem. It recounts that earlyness, the basic space, cold and uninviting and the process of arriving at the piece –Present tense [1996]- by Mona H., its installation and the historical context of a disastrous willingness to compromise with Occupation in the form of ‘Oslo’. An apologetic Abu Amar is scratched-in which raised a big laugh and the whole piece is damn fine, not least as testament to Nablus.

As Jack and Shumon talked, the film was paused on one of the many Occupation watchtowers that terrorise the Palestinian Hills, lest any of us forget the bloody stain it represents… Continue reading “on an art of two-sides, mathaf interference at ICA”