Protodispatch is a monthly digital publication featuring artists' perspectives on contemporary life and transcontinental political, social, cultural, environmental, and economic issues.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2023

SEPTEMBER 13, 2023


Abbas and Abou-Rahme combine video, music, and poems on the regenerative cycles of destruction and regrowth, by both nature and human hands.

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme

This month's Protodispatch is a new work by Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme. It merges a dissonant voice as poetry, intense flashes of text and video, and sound as a broken melody. Incorporating these imprints from a forbidden land, Abbas and Abou-Rahme explore the regenerative cycles of destruction and regrowth, observed in both nature and human actions. With their characteristic compassion and emotional grace, the artists confront the dehumanizing erasure of Palestinian communities, and lands, employing disrupted botanical cycles as a powerful metaphor for resistance. Until we became fire and fire us is part of their broader project, May Amnesia never kiss us on the mouth (, which encompasses an extensive collection of online recordings capturing people singing and dancing as a form of resistance, in Iraq, Palestine, and Syria.

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Until We Became Fire and Fire Us, video, 2023

After they destroyed the village
they planted pine trees to cover the remains

In the wake of the destruction
we looked out towards the hill
but could not find the path

Decades set in
pine needles covered the land
extinguishing breath of pomegranate, fig, almond
And then one afternoon
a fire raged
encircling the hilltop
until all the pine trees
had been reduced to ash
And the terraces we had built
embracing the land

The fire raged
and raged

until we became fire
and fire us

بعدما دمروا القرية
زرعوا أشجار الصنوبر لمحو آثارها

في أعقاب الدمار
نظرنا إلى الجبل
فلم نستطع أن نميز الطريق

مرت السنين
وإبر الصنوبر فرشت البلاد
وغطت على عبق التين، واللوز، والرمان
ولكن ذات يوم هبت النيران
وطوقت التلال
وحولت أشجار الصنوبر
الى رماد
وعادت المدرجات التي بنيناها
لتعانق الأرض

اشتدت النيران
واشتعلنا معها
فأصبحنا نحن النيران

these are the fault lines we are in
A volcano erupted
the lava is still hot to touch
You say we shapeshift, mutate,
I say yes, that is how we survive
You say but what happens when we can't shift and instead we snap
And then
I am thinking of a branch snapping
How the sap inside smells full of an undeniable vitality
Feels alive to touch

هذه خطوط التصدع الذي نعيشها
بركان ينفجر
الحمم ما زالت حارقة عصية على اللمس
تقول اننا نحول اشكالنا، نتحور
أقول نعم ، هكذا نستطيع البقاء
تسأل ماذا سيحدث لو لم نتمكن من التحول وبدلا عنه ننكسر،
اتخيل غصنا ينكسر
كيف أن عصارته تفوح بحيوية ملموسة
مليئة بالحياة

I’m sending you a message
To say
What if the cactus is the haunting
What if the cactus is us and we are the cactus
a specter that says, we were here, we are here

bodies falling in and out of each other, bodies holding each other.

ابعث لك رسالة
لاقول لك
ماذا لو أن الصبار هو المسكون
ماذا لو أننا نحن الصبار
شبح يعلن أننا كنا هنا، واننا ما زلنا هنا
أجساد تترامى سويا، تتناثر، أجساد تتعانق مع بعضها

The land haunts us
And we haunt them
The ghosts, the echo, the shadows that remain

الأرض تسكننا
واشباحنا تسكنهم
الشبح، الصدى، الظلال المتبقية