2k16.1

AN INTERLUDE CALLED MENTE // MAJID AL TURKI & EMAN ALEGHFELI

 
 
 

–Overture–

Where it all begins
above the crud
and the unstable grounds.

–I–

It’s hidden,
but the pressure
is well noticed.
bits of filth
are on your legs.

–II–

Something seems different..
you probably wouldn’t know,
but you feel weaker,
bent a little.
your legs are stained.

–III–

It’s gloomier and darker now;
too late to change anything.
You’re trapped under the
force of your will.
you’ve lost sight of
your feet.

–IV–

All seems withered and
the air tastes a bit stale.
giving up seems like
all you can do now;
you close your eyes
waiting for what may
come. Your knees have
clamped, and you feel crushed.

–V–

No breathing is left;
all light has been consumed.
It’s cold and damp
and your skin is crawling.
people simply step over
and around the place
you stay in. Sight is barely
possible anymore;
you kneel in submission,
a victim to the world.

Is it time to buy time?

–VI–

Rest assured, there is no need
for further misfortunes.
now, you've been suffering
for a life time. 
kneel down,
plead and dispute.

Live on.

***
text // majid al turki
art // eman aleghfeli

 

 

TAWSEET AL SHARQ #4: MONA HATOUM

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     Still from 'Measures of Distance' by Mona Hatoum, 1988

Still from 'Measures of Distance' by Mona Hatoum, 1988

When talking about contemporary Middle Eastern art, Mona Hatoum is a name always mentioned. She was born in 1952 to Palestinian parents in Beirut and a vacation in 1975 to London turned into an exile as the Lebanese civil war broke out and Hatoum decided to stay in the British capital until the chaos in Lebanon ended. The usual introductions written about her seem eager to define her and her work: a Palestinian forever in exile, early years of feminist and political activism, and a performance artist who turned to installations and exhibitions. However washing out the noisiness of the identity in her work in order to categorize and judge Hatoum by mere words is a futile process. Her complex, invasive, and multidisciplinary work, that has been at the forefront of the international art scene and has spanned over three decades, does not perform the task of classifying Hatoum into a certain category. In fact, her work does the opposite; it places you in an environment of constant flux, shows you the intricacies of an identity that is just as much influenced by her past and heritage as well as her present. One thing is for sure, that her art has a strong formidable presence and all we have to do is soak it up one work at a time. 

I had the opportunity to see Measures of Distance at LACMA and I sat there watching in awe, trying to decipher the images of her mother, read the Arabic letters, and listen to the English translation of Hatoum reading them aloud; all at once. I sat there and I watched it twice and I tried and I couldn’t, with all my being, separate this piece into the entities that created it. I happened to not have left my seat after the second viewing and only when I had given up and forgotten about the inextricable layers of Measures of Distance, it started playing again for the third time. This time I watched and listened to everything and nothing. I took everything in but did not separate the layers and when I heard her mother’s opening laughter to the dialogue I couldn’t help but smile at this mess. A beautiful mess of meaning. A beautiful mess of identity that spoke of complexities of displacement and the sense of loss and separation undertaken by the individual in the social – political context of war. What Mona has beautifully weaved together was not meant to be plucked out and analyzed by separate entities; it stands on its own as a whole identity. I was plunged into the personal of Hatoum’s life regardless of how complex, contradictory, and vulnerable it is and I took it all.

With her mother’s loving voice and laughter placed against Mona’s somber tone as she reads her mother’s letters that still manage to convey tenderness and love through a war period, I was reminded of some lines from Jack Gilbert’s poem A Brief For The Defense

If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.


WATCH MEASURES OF DISTANCE PARTS 1 & 2.

Mona Hatoum Measures of Disatnce (1988) This videotape is perhaps the most touching of Mona Hatoum's artistic statement in which she examines her position as an exiled female artist. The author's voice translates letters of her mother from Arab into English, represented visually as a texture of calligraphy over the texture of her body and skin.

KMANJAH #4: ALTERSAL

Kuwait seems to be blooming in electronic tunes; the last time Kuwait was mentioned on Jaffat Elaqlam was because of the two rad girls of II WAVEZ. This time, we’re introducing an EP by the musician Salem AlSalem.

Salem AlSalem is a do-it-all artist; he designs his tracks’ covers, sings, writes songs, and plays multiple instruments. He is also a member of the locally loved band, Galaxy Juice and part of the Empty Alter project.

About his music, Salem says that he likes experimenting, creating soundscapes, ambiances and atmospheres. As for his first EP ‘Altersal’, he mentions that it was his own dark experience which he produced alone; different from anything he plays with his band. 

The dream pop/electronic experimental EP consists of four tracks, playing for almost 17 minutes as a whole. The whole EP feels like stepping into a river knees deep, yet it is still daylight, so you still move your hands to the music while having the stream eat your legs. Beginning with the curious and groovy first track After Loath, then the second track Come Between hits different notes and your dance differs a bit, but you’re still in the river, the sun is getting hotter, and your fingers are still dancing when the third track I’m Not Fading comes along holding you for six minutes of rhythm. And finally, the lyrics-free Drop The Curtains has you by the feet to the head, ending the EP mystically. 

The highlight of the album to me is definitely Drop The Curtains, in which, to me personally, Salem truly shines and gives us a piece of him to experience to what feels like a split second taken from a huge time lapse. The fusion of spacey sounds, old vinyl playing at the background, and careful stirs of  electronic sounds create a mix that captures the quiet explosion Salem was trying give to his audience through this EP.

 

***
salem // instagram & bandcamp
hayat // kmanjah & twitter