27 April 2023

Scattered Subjects: Susan Ossman Plurilogue with May Al-Dabbagh

Alserkal Arts Foundation

Starts 6:30 pm

Ends 8:00 pm

Venue Alserkal Arts Foundation

Warehouse 50/51

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Join us on Thursday 27 April from 6:30 - 8pm for Scattered Subjects with anthropologist and artist Susan Ossman and Haraka Lab director May Al-Dabbagh at Common Room, Warehouse 51.

What is a subject? A subject is what a song or painting is about; it makes things happen in a sentence and in the world. Yet, to be the subject of a book or a ruler or to law or social conventions limits the choice of verbs that can animate action. Through reflecting on Ossman’s experiences of serial migration and her project that combines practices from the social sciences and the arts, this conversation opens up new possibilities for thinking about knowledge production both within and outside of the academy.

The event will take the form of a Plurilogue, a term that evokes the notion of dialogue that goes beyond two sides. Plurilogue is akin to a roundtable discussion in which the invited speaker shares research followed by interventions by attendees. All participants are expected to situate their own work in relation to their location in their institutions, geographies, and trajectories as well as to the speaker’s presentation. The event will be followed by a light dinner.

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Plurilogue is organised by Haraka: Experimental Lab for Arab Art and Social Thought, an interdisciplinary and dynamic space that bridges the arts and social sciences in Al Mawrid: Arab Center for the Study of Art at New York University Abu Dhabi. Through research, archives, pedagogy, and exchange platforms that activate the Global Network of NYU while simultaneously building connection to the thinkers, artists, and alumni in the region, Haraka is a space for movement and flow but also for a more nuanced reading of the politics of translation and knowledge production. Haraka Lab is currently hosted at Alserkal Arts Foundation as part of its guest residency in 2023.


Susan Ossman is an artist, anthropologist and serial migrant whose lyrical pairing and installations and collaborative programs intertwine concept and emotion to reflect on questions of migration and movement, gender, colonialism and power. Her current projects focus on subjectivity and climate change. Susan has exhibited and performed her work across Europe, the USA and the Maghreb, including with The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop (MMTW), a serial migrant art/scholar collective she founded in 2013. Her Shifting Worlds, Shaping Fieldwork, a Memoir of Anthropology and Art (Routledge 2021) is an image- led reflection on how she has progressively developed her distinct practice and project design while moving Casablanca to Paris, London to Los Angeles and, most recently, in the UAE, where she teaches at New York Abu Dhabi.

May Al-Dabbagh is an associate professor of social research and public policy at New York University Abu Dhabi. She directs Haraka: Experimental Lab for Arab Art and Social Thought that bridges the arts and social sciences and focuses on contemporary art in the Gulf region. She has published in academic journals such as Organization Science, Migration Studies, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, and Idafat: Arab Journal of Sociology (Arabic) and runs a podcast Talking Texts, which features researchers from the Gulf region. She has collaborated with artists on multidisciplinary projects such as Making Space and Voice (re) Claimed and curated a processual exhibition of artist archives of the Gulf in New York titled Sharbaka: Entanglement/Attunement. Her current projects include research on The Body Archive and Self Tracing/استشفاف النفس, a research and teaching method that was featured in the World Humanities Report in 2023.

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