27 September 2022–1 October 2022
Mud, Minarets and Meaningless Events | A research convening
Part of Alserkal Lates
What is multidisciplinary research in the arts? Why is it important to support projects that are imaginative and experimental, and how might they engage with a wider public?
Drawing upon the research-led practices supported by the inaugural round of Alserkal Arts Foundation’s Research Grants programme, we are thrilled to share projects developed by artists Jeanne Penjan Lassus and Shahana Rajani, curator and independent researcher Léa Morin, and multi-disciplinary designer and artist Manar Moursi.
Their modes, research methods, critical frameworks and possibilities for dissemination expand beyond academic research or what we may expect from studio-based artistic practice, ranging from fieldwork, ethnographic research, and building and restoring elusive archives. Using images, film and video, digital tools and often working in multiple languages, each endeavour is sensitive to current debates in the field, demonstrating deep engagement with and sustained commitment to context, subject, agency and location.
Presentations and discussion with interlocutors Rahul Gudipudi and Lawrence Abu Hamdan takes place from 6 to 8pm on 27 September, while select material relating to their projects will remain on display from 27 September to 1 October at Jossa by Alserkal (Warehouse 45).
6:00pm | Welcome and Refreshments
6:15pm | Virtual Presentation with Léa Morin
6:30pm | Jeanne Penjan Lassus and Shahana Rajani
6:50pm | Discussion and Q & A with Rahul Gudipudi
7:15pm | Comfort Break
7:20pm | Manar Moursi
7:40pm | Discussion and Q & A with Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Embodied Cartographies and Visual Entanglements in the Delta
Embodied Cartographies and Visual Entanglements in the Delta explores what it means to map, represent and experience the shifting, disappearing landscape of the Indus delta in Pakistan. The project traces fisherfolk practices around the sensing body and the sacred to engage with the different cosmologies and temporalities of the delta that unsettle urban conceptions of land and colonial ways of seeing. We focus on histories and practices of remembrance, return and resistance that enable fisherfolk long displaced from the delta, to maintain a connection with their ancestral creeks. These aquatic imaginaries and sacred poetic registers, constitute embodied cartographies that centre alternate forms of knowing and relationality in a more-than-human world. We trace these situated knowledges and practices to develop sensorial methods that grapple with ecologies of wetness, environmental destruction and the politics of representation.
Moroccan filmmaker Abdelkrim Derkaoui, who studied cinematography in Łódź Film School in the sixties, extensively documented his “Polish life”. His photographs, preserved in negative albums and stored in boxes since his return to Morocco in 1972, have never before been shown. They are now brought into dialogue with the films made during the years of study in Łódź, and with archives, and objects documenting the international political and artistic atmosphere marked by tri-continental struggle. What would the role of the artist be in this eagerly awaited reorganisation of the world? What kind of national cinema would they want for their newly independent countries?
The Loudspeaker and the Tower
Using the mosque as its starting point, Cairo- and Boston-based artist, designer, and architect Manar Moursi’s work The Loudspeaker and the Tower examines the apparatus of the mosque as a vertical symbol of power and as a horizontal multiplier of official and unsanctioned narratives in the city of Cairo. Moursi’s installation revolves around a set of associated characters — residents of once agricultural lands, mosque custodians, imams, architects, artists, and a parrot — to further understand the radical complexities of these structures. The work acknowledges the hybridised function of these contemporary, religious houses, which operate as hacks into the civic infrastructure to secure amenities, community, and sustainability. In staging these elements, the project highlights the material and political significance of new mosque architecture in Egypt today, looking into the processes of building and negotiating in both the structures themselves and what transpires inside them.
Jeanne Penjan Lassus (b.1991) is a visual artist working in film, video installation, photography and writing. Her works draw from her interest in sensory perceptions and porosity of spaces and beings, taking acute attention to one’s own environment as a central work process. She is interested in creating sensory experiences from fragments that unfold in their own temporalities, reflecting on how our bodies sense, move and extend into space.
She was the recipient of Bangkok Arts and Culture Center’s EYP #4 Residency Grant in 2019 and participated in the Ocean Fellowship 2020 organised by TBA21 in Venice. Lassus studied at the Beaux-Arts in Paris and is based in Bangkok.
Shahana Rajani is an artist based in Karachi. Her work and research trace the emerging visualities and infrastructures of development and militarisation in Pakistan using multidisciplinary methods and media. She is a co-founder of Karachi LaJamia, an experimental project seeking to politicize art education and explore new radical pedagogies and art practices. She is an Assistant Professor in the Liberal Arts Programme at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. She has a BA in History of Art from the University of Cambridge and a MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies from the University of British Columbia.
Léa Morin is an independent curator and researcher. She is engaged in projects of editing, exhibition, film programming and restoration that bring together researchers, artists and practitioners. She is especially interested in the circulation of ideas, forms, aesthetics, and political and artistic struggles in the period of independence movements (1960s and 1970s) and in the stakes of cultural decolonisation. She is also part of the team “Archive Bouanani, a history of cinema in Morocco” in Rabat, and “Talitha” devoted to alternative and experimental cinematic and sound archives, preservation, and redistribution in Rennes. www.talitha3.com
She conceived the trilingual (ar-eng-fr) shared archives website CINIMA3 Łódź-Casablanca: Poland to become a moroccan filmmaker: artistic experimentations, political struggles, the tricontinental, and cinema at the school of Łódź during the sixties and seventies: www.cinima3.com/Lodz-Casablanca
Manar Moursi is a Kuwait-born Egyptian researcher, architect, and artist, currently based between Montreal and Cambridge. Her work considers how power is articulated in small day-to-day gestures in the built environment or in personal relationships. She is often guided in her making with sensitivity and curiosity to sensory experiences. Accordingly, she works with multiple media: artist books, installation, video installation, and sculpture. Lately, Manar works with the personal as political and uses her own body and personal history in performance and video works. Playfulness with language and text is also a running thread in her work. Manar is currently working on a Ph.D. in the History, Theory, and Criticism of art and architecture group at MIT while maintaining her artistic practice.
Rahul Gudipudi is a writer, researcher, and curator based in Dubai. He is currently an Exhibitions Curator at Art Jameel working on exhibitions and discursive programmes at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai, and Hayy Jameel, Jeddah. Gudipudi is currently a member of the curatorial advisory board and the editorial board for The New Alphabet School programme at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. He is a curatorial advisor at The Story of Foundation, a transdisciplinary learning platform in Goa, India.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an independent investigator or Private Ear. His investigations focus on sound and linguistics and 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 together with fellow researchers from Forensic Architecture. Abu Hamdan received his PhD in 2017 from Goldsmiths College University of London and in 2021 completed a professorship at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz where he developed his research airpressure.info . Past fellowships have been held at the University of Chicago and the New School, New York.