As an extension of Haitham Ennasr's project with Bilna'es, Nothing Old, Nothing New, he will be in conversation with Freya Dutta, Elias Wakeem, and moderator Ruanne Abou-Rahme, discussing how their practices correlate and intersect revolutionary cultural practices at large. The panelists will discuss the relationship between class, gender, race, capital, the colonial, and the use of art as a tool to illustrate systems of oppression and imagine a future where they aren't tolerated as a natural fact of life.
Nothing Old, Nothing New (Project of Bilna'es)
Nothing Old, Nothing New is a collection of experimental videogames, drawings, text, and objects developed over the course of six years. The project plays on the relationship between capitalism, colonialism, depictions of landscapes, real estate development, and folklore. In this play Nothing Old, Nothing New reappropriates aspects of these practices to envision a revolutionary utopia. Inspiration for the project came from a tour of downtown Beirut in late 2014 when Haitham Ennasr was given an annual report titled City in Scenes by Solidere, the company responsible for the renovation of downtown Beirut. City in Scenes was illustrated with talismanic drawings of stars that inspired three video games, City, New City, and Tabula Rasa, along with a multitude of drawings, writings, and objects.
Haitham Ennasr is an artist and interactive designer who refers to himself as "radically soft." Haitham graduated from and taught for the Design and Technology MFA program at Parsons School of Design in New York. He was a fellow at the Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan in Beirut and a founding member of "Taawoneeyi," a cooperative of artists dedicated to supporting each other materially and immaterially. Haitham's work is created through a vernacular sci-fi, folkloric, and intersectional revolutionary utopic lens. His mediums of expression include drawing, painting, sculpture, videogames, text, and performance.
Elias Wakeem is a genderqueer artist and activist who makes art that bends and plays with language, character, and identity, often using grotesque body forms to create performances that challenge boundaries in their society. They use installation and performance to develop and create various characters and personas. Elias holds a bachelor of arts from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and is currently pursuing a master's degree in art studies at the University of Haifa. Elias has given lectures and performed at academic institutions and festivals worldwide on drag culture and queer identity in Palestine.
Freya Dutta is an artist, designer, and educator based in New York City. She uses art to build a dialogue around inequity in her communities and questions systems of power with playful interactive storytelling. Her career began as a filmmaker in Mumbai. In 2013 she co-founded the studio Antidote, where she works as the creative director for immersive experience design. Freya also teaches at the Parsons Design and Technology program and speaks at conferences and gatherings worldwide. Her work was exhibited most recently at the V&A Dundee. She is currently coordinating activist art for various labor organizations in New York, weaving, and pulling weeds in her local community garden.
Ruanne Abou-Rahme (Moderator)
Ruanne Abou-Rahme works across a range of sound, image, text, installation, and performance practices. Her practice is engaged in the intersections between performativity, political imaginaries, the body, and virtuality. Her approach has primarily involved sampling materials, both existing and self-authored, in the form of sound, image, text, and objects, recasting them all together into new "scripts." The result is a practice that investigates the political, visceral, and material possibilities of sound, image, text, and site, taking on the form of multimedia installations and live audio-visual performances.
'Palestine, IN-BETWEEN' is presented by CPS + LIFTA with Lena Mansour and Cher Asad with support from The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, the Center for Archaeology at Columbia University and the Columbia Global Center | Amman.