June 19, 2018 - e-flux - Talks and screenings in June
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June 19, 2018

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Monira al-Qadiri, The Craft (still), 2017. Video, 16 minutes. Courtesy of the artist.

Talks and screenings in June

e-flux
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Join us at e-flux for our June programs featuring a screening, reading, and conversation by Dave McKenzie and Mary Walling Blackburn, and a selection of film and video works by Larissa Sansour and Søren Lind, Ghassan Salhab and Mohamed Soueid, Monira al-Qadiri, Ayman Nahle, and Meriem Bennani.

Program

Dave McKenzie and Mary Walling Blackburn, “Hostile Witness”
A screening, reading, and conversation
Thursday, June 21, 7pm 

ON SEPTEMBER 29, 1972, A YOUNG, UNKNOWN ARTIST TRIED TO THROW ROBERT MCNAMARA, THE FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, OFF THE MARTHA'S VINEYARD FERRY. . . .— Headline in The Washington Post, September 6, 1987

In 2012, while attending a reception in Berlin, American artist Dave McKenzie created a work, Camera, where he attempts to make no physical  contact with a fellow attendee, the former US secretary of state and national security advisor Henry Kissinger.

In April 2017, American artist Mary Walling Blackburn posted an epistolary text, titled Gina and the Stars, addressed to former CIA Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service Gina Cheri Haspel, in hopes that the online “open letter” would work against Haspel assuming the position of Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency.

The US legitimization of illegal and extra-legal interrogation techniques has been crystallized by the recent appointment of Gina Cheri Haspel to the position of Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency. Let’s attend to the ontological crises experienced by writers and artists when our attempts to record and criticize illegal and extra-legal punishments fail to confuse/delay or stop state-organized violence. It feels like... we might not exist. Our singular protest does not register because we are not real (a real threat) to those who orchestrate a series of global terrors. We poltergeists notice a dematerialization on a demonic scale: the documentation of interrogations, the location of so-called black sites (secret prisons), and the identity of torturers (not unlike that of medieval executioners) routinely erased. The damage to actual captives is not a fantasy. The ideologies that depend on destroying bodies to confirm internal loyalties, also not a dream.

Let’s discuss the manner in which Haspel has been presented as a white American female “lean-in” torturer; how the nineteenth-century fear of the female voice has been supplanted by a twenty-first-century fear of the torturer’s voice; the global circulation of the war criminal (Kissinger socializing abroad) vs. local confrontations on “that female island” (as LBJ referred to Martha’s Vineyard); the difference between the artist initiating a state-sanctioned gesture vs. an unsanctioned one; and the political sense in deforming an epistolary genre (the exchange of letters between eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American women was a way to solidify female friendship) or drafting a horoscope for Haspel with an online generator.

ArteEast presents: Closing evening of Films, Facts, and Fiction
With works by Larissa Sansour and Søren Lind, Ghassan Salhab and Mohamed Soueid, Monira al-Qadiri, Ayman Nahle, and Meriem Bennani
Wednesday, June 27, 7pm

Join us on Wednesday, June 27 at 7pm for the culminating evening in this season’s ArteEast series Films, Facts, and Fiction to be held at e-flux. The evening features a selection of short films by Larissa Sansour and Søren Lind, Ghassan Salhab and Mohamed Soueid, Monira al-Qadiri, and Ayman Nahle, and a music video coda by Meriem Bennani. Sampling an array of genres from science-fiction to the essay film, documentary détournement, and the music video, the five works, each in their own way, perform a subtle queering of place—political or intimate, made up or registered. Some are funny, and all are touching.

Larissa Sansour and Søren Lind, In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain, 2016 (Video, 29 minutes)
In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain is a science-fiction meets fake-history film, presented as a disclosure of a therapy session between a narrative terrorist and her psychiatrist. Through a sampling of CGI images, live action, and archival material, the filmmakers explore the constructs of fact, fiction, history, and national identity. The film’s storyline revolves around a resistance cell that deposits porcelain underground in an effort to create a fictional civilization, as a way of staking out a real political claim to the right of the occupied to their (vanishing) land.

Ghassan Salhab and Mohamed Soueid, Aala Kad al Shawk, Le Voyage immobile (As Far As Yearning), 2017 (Video, 23 minutes)
This heartwarming essay film plays out as a conversation between two filmmakers and long-time friends living in two different cities—Beirut and Dubai. In a back-and-forth exchange of moving images, monologues, and soundtracks, the film unfolds as a lyrical intimation of friendship, a fusion of feelings of longing and, eventually, of the filmmakers’ image- and sound-worlds. The film’s Arabic portion of the title is named after a song by mid-twentieth-century icon Abdel Halim Hafiz on yearning, a yearning that is at once alleviated and amplified by a voyage immobile, or “motionless journey.”

Monira al-Qadiri, The Craft, 2017 (Video, 16 minutes)
The Craft is Monira al-Qadiri’s most recent film, in which the artist delves into her family history. The film evokes something of childhood’s sympathetic magic, reveling in futuristic architecture, pop culture, dreams, junk food... Stories of alien abductions, geopolitical entanglements, and international diplomacy—as features of standard modernity—become destabilized through potent fictions-as-facts. With humor and suspense, the film builds up to the artist’s discovery that “the American century has finally ended.”

Ayman Nahle, Now: End of Season, 2017 (Video, 20 minutes)
Now: End of Season is a documentary détournement on the state of the Syrian crisis. The film pictures the everyday entanglement of refugees, tourists, and passersby in the Turkish seaport town of Izmir, where a sense of limbo and standstill looms as illegalized migrants await departure to the unknown. The soundtrack to the film is from a phone call by Hafez al-Assad to Ronald Reagan made some thirty years earlier. A caller on hold, an impatient translator… In Nahle’s words, “more confused than ever, the world is on the edge, showing the disoriented face of a smiling disaster.”

Meriem Bennani, Léviathan, 2017 (Video, 16 minutes)
Léviathan is a music video commissioned by the Parisian electronic musician Flavien Berger as part of the release of his first album (and three-song EP) with the French label Pan European. Bennani directed a video with found and fabricated footage for the album’s 15-minute title track. Starring Mae Elvis, a performance artist known for taking on different identities in her work. The black and white cinematic video follows Elvis wandering through a suburban neighborhood, with dreams of dolphins and dancing women.

Admission is free; no RSVP necessary. Seating is first come, first served. 
Events will be livestreamed on e-flux.com/live.
For a list of our upcoming programs, visit our website. For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

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Eva Díaz: “We Are All Aliens”
Eva Díaz discusses her essay “We Are All Aliens” published in e-flux journal issue 91 (May 2018) with contributing editor Elvia Wilk. “For some, contemporary art has become a kind of alt-science platform for research and development projects that offer alternatives to the corporate control and surveillance of outer space.”

Masha Gessen on how to survive an autocracy
Journalist and author Masha Gessen discusses ways of surviving an autocracy. Rule #1? Believe the autocrat. For this week’s episode of the e-flux podcast, we are featuring Masha Gessen’s lecture, “How We Survive an Autocracy,” originally given on May 24, 2017 as part of an ongoing e-flux lectures series dedicated to discovering the protocols of twenty-first century truth, assuming that these still exist.

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