BASEL ABBAS AND RUANNE ABOU-RAHME

And yet my mask is powerful


  • <p>Courtesy of the artists and Carroll / Fletcher.</p>

    Courtesy of the artists and Carroll / Fletcher.


Opening Reception: Wednesday, February 15, 19:00 – 21:00
Exhibitions dates: February 15 - April 16 2017
Opening hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 13:00-21:00, Sunday, 11:00-19:00

Alt Art Space presents Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s newest installation, And yet my mask is powerful, 2016, which addresses the relationship between mythology, ecology and the resistance to colonial time, imagining new possible incomplete narratives.

Along with other young people, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme visited ruins of Palestinian villages, now overgrown with indigenous plants, nature reclaiming these spaces. The overgrowth, earth, plants, stones, find a way to survive and become a quiet resistance to this contested space. And yet my mask is powerful consists of two parts. Part one is a five channel immersive video installation, with sound, and strange small objects that can be used to build or destroy a place. The content of the video is a visceral journey to the wrecks of former Palestinian towns and villages, a transference of the experience of re-visiting. The images are overlaid with a text sampled from Adrienne Rich's poem Diving into the wreck, 1971, written from the perspective of a diver descending into the remains of a sunken ship. Moving towards "the wreck and not the story of the wreck / the thing itself and not the myth." With these rich metaphors, And yet my mask is powerful “confronts the apocalyptic imaginary and violence that dominate our contemporary moment, an apocalyptic vision that seems to clog up even the pores in our bodies.”

Part two of And yet my mask is powerful, across two halls, is made up of a new sound work and an expanded collection of materials. The sound is conceived as a conversation between the artists about their trips to these ruins, “which are still alive, almost possessed despite a colonial logic. Over time, these sites are transforming, revealing a relationship between colonialism and the domination of nature/ecology/landscape, which resists this domination.” The materials include images, books, diagrams, found objects, dried plants, rocks, and 3D printed mask-sculptures. The masks circle back to the diving-mask in the poem, becoming a symbol of empowerment, protection with mythical-power. “Neolithic masks found in the West Bank and stored in private collections are hacked and 3D-printed. Copies circulate in Palestine, eerily akin to a black ski mask. A group of youth wears them at the site of a destroyed Palestinian village in Israel. Becoming other, becoming anonymous, in this accidental moment of ritual and myth.”

First the air is blue and then
It is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
It pumps my blood with power

Special thanks to Arter, Koç Family Foundation, from whom the video installation is on loan to Alt.

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme (b.1983) work together across a range of sound, image, text, installation and performance practices. They have exhibited and performed internationally and founded the sound and image performance group Tashweesh. Solo exhibitions include Only the beloved keeps our secrets, The Gallery at Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle, 2016); And Yet My Mask is Powerful, Carroll / Fletcher (London, 2016); The Incidental Insurgents, ICA (Philadelphia, 2015), Office for Contemporary Art (Oslo, 2015), and Akademie Der Kuenste Der Welt (Cologne, 2014); The Zone, New Art Exchange (Nottingham, 2011); and Collapse, Delfina Foundation (London, 2009). Recent group exhibitions include House of Commons, Portikus, Frankfurt; This Sea Is Mine, Qalandiya International, Ramallah (both 2016); Political Populism, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; the 12th Sharjah Biennale; Lest The Two Seas Meet, Warsaw Museum Of Modern Art (all 2015); the 31st São Paulo Biennial; 10th Gwangju Biennale; Insert 2014, New Delhi (all 2014); Asian Art Biennale (Taiwan); 13th Istanbul Biennial; Points of Departure, ICA, London (all 2013); the 6th Jerusalem Show; (On) Accordance, Grand Union/or-bits.com, Birmingham (both 2012); Future Movements - Jerusalem at the Liverpool Biennial, HomeWorks 5, Ashkal Alwan Beirut (all 2010); Delfina Foundation (London), and Palestine c/o Venice at the 53rd Venice.