Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Only the beloved keep our secrets, 2016. Video Still. Courtesy of the artists and Abraaj Art Prize

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme

MAIN GALLERY
Exhibition runs May 4 2018 - June 30 2018
Opening: May 4 2018: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Curated by: Vicky Moufawad-Paul
Copresented by: A Space Gallery, CONTACT Photography Festival,

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme create collaborative projects that take the contemporary Palestinian landscape as their location, and its contested history and uncertain future as their research material. Their installation, sound, performance, and book projects engage with the political impasse of our age, and work to unhinge assumptions about liberatory movements. They use aural, textual, and visual poetry to focus on the peripheral, and work with the notion of déjà vu—an experience that is uncomfortably familiar yet strange and new—to welcome slippages. This strategy of constructing incidental and amnesiac narratives from digital archives affords those materials opportunities for new imaginaries.

The Incidental Insurgents (2012 – 2015) is a multi-channel video that searches for new political relationships and courses of action. Performing a search for, sitting with, and looking at Palestinian land and history, the project bears the fruit of a relationship with the Young Arab Theatre Fund and Al-Ma’mal Foundation. The texts that appear onscreen are reworked fragments from the published writing of Russian revolutionary Victor Serge and Chilean socialist novelist Roberto Bolaño. These sampled materials allow poetic juxtapositions between disparate locations and histories. Caught between the impulse for radical action and the need to overcome the capitalist-colonial present, there is an uneasy sense of that which is unfulfilled. At the same time, there is a persistent refusal to accept defeat and to instead return. This return is at once defiant and resigned. This contradictory position is taken up as a new posture in search of a new politics.

Only the beloved keeps our secrets (2016) is a single-channel video that layers images and sounds into a dense tapestry of the rituals associated with mourning. The video is structured around footage taken from March 19, 2014 when an Israeli military surveillance camera captured the Israeli forces killing a 14-year-old boy named Yusuf Shawamreh. The boy was crossing the Israeli “separation fence” near Hebron in order to pick Akub, an edible, wild-growing plant considered a delicacy in Palestinian cuisine that is found at high altitudes. A court injunction forced the military to release the surveillance footage, and it was then shared online. The artists use visual strategies of accumulation and density in order to consider the relationship between testament, uncounted bodies, and the erasure of images. This project poses questions about the conditions under which the evidence of, and the lost bodies themselves, might appear again.

Abbas and Abou-Rahme live and work between Ramallah and New York. This is their first exhibition in Canada; it pairs these two projects, both of which set adrift histories of conflict that we think we know, into altogether new, poetic, and painful narratives.

BIOGRAPHIES
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme work together across a range of sound, image, text, installation and performance practices. Their practice is engaged in the intersections between performativity, political imaginaries, the body and virtuality. Across their works they probe a contemporary landscape marked by seemingly perpetual crisis and an endless 'present', one that is shaped by a politics of desire and disaster. They have been developing a body of work that questions this suspension of the present and searches for ways in which an altogether different imaginary and language can emerge that is not bound within colonial/capitalist narrative and discourse. In their projects, they find themselves excavating, activating and inventing incidental narratives, figures, gestures and sites as material for re-imagining the possibilities of the present. Often reflecting on ideas of non-linearity in the form of returns, amnesia and deja vu, and in the process unfolding the slippages between actuality and projection (fiction, myth, wish), what is and what could be. Largely their approach has been one of sampling materials both existing and self-authored in the form of sound, image, text, objects and recasting them into altogether new 'scripts'. The result is a practice that investigates the political, visceral, material possibilities of sound, image, text and site, taking on the form of multi-media installations and live sound/image performances.


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