Exhibition of Photography, Installations, Performances, Talks, and Film Screenings at Beit Beirut and Metropolis Cinema
5 November 2017: Opening and Reception in Beit Beirut (Opening upon Invitation) 10- 25 November: Exhibition open to the public (Beit Beirut)
6-12 November: Film Screenings at Metropolis
The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture-AFAC is a pioneering grant-making institution in the Arab world that has transformed the creative fields in the region and among its Diasporas remarkably and irreversibly. After a decade in operation, and more than a thousand grants disbursed in the fields of film, photography, music, visual arts, performing arts, literature, culture-related research and training, it has come to incarnate the vibrancy and richness of the region through the artistic and cultural production. To mark this milestone first decade, AFAC is organizing an event to celebrate the accomplishments of around 40 artists it had supported over the past ten years in Beit Beirut, asymbolic building in the twentieth century history of Beirut that promises to become a unique site for intellectual and cultural encounters, discovery and debate.
Curated by Rasha Salti, the two-week exhibition will take place at Beit Beirut (10-25 November) and showcases the works of more than 40 artists from 15 Arab countries whose projects were supported by AFAC.
It brings together photographs by the Arab Documentary Photography Program grantees: Amira Al-Sharif, Eman Helal, Omar Imam, Heba Khalifa, Arwa Alneami, Mehdy Mariouch, Mostafa Bassim, Ahmad Moussa, Zied Ben Romdhane, Nadia Bseiso, Reem Falaknaz, Hicham Gardaf, Zara Samiry, Mustapha Saeed, Muhammad Salah, Roi Saade, Faisal Al Fouzan, Iman Al Dabbagh, Hamada Elrasam, and Eyad Abou Kasem.
In addition to documentary photography, seven installations will be on exhibit: Studio Mario, a video and photo installation by Mona Hallak, in collaboration with the Arab Image Foundation. Two sound installations, Open Channel: A Public Installation for Listening, an audio-architectural installation by Ahmad Al Khoja, and Perpetuum Mobile, a sound installation by Cynthia Zaven; two video installations: Purple, Bodies in Translation - Part II of 'A Yellow Memory from the Yellow Age', a video installation by Joe Namy; and a segment of the film The Narrow Frame of Midnight by Moroccan/Iraqi filmmaker Tala Hadid; two visual installations: a preview of Mazen Kerbaj’s work in progress The Arabic Marseillaise, and a drawing of the cartographer, Tarek Abbar entitled, Shuttle Diplomacy.
Beit Beirut will also host three performances of the AFAC commissioned collaboration between musician Sharif Sehnaoui and contemporary dancer Taoufiq Izeddiou.
Three talks are scheduled during the two-week celebration including: a Curator Talk by Rasha Salti, an Artist Talk by Mona Hallak, and a Conversation between Elias Khoury and Yousri Nasrallah.
Details of the Event
Rasha Salti, a Lebanese independent curator of art and film, is curating the exhibition. The curatorial concept guiding the selection of works from AFAC’s archive will articulate around three main themes, namely counter-representation, memory and empathy. Its impetus builds from the legacy of the three-year long Arab Documentary Photography Project, a special program organized in partnership with the Magnum
Foundation (USA) and the Prince Claus Fund (The Netherlands), aimed at the pro-active mentoring and support of aspiring documentary photographers in the region. The program has been especially relevant in the region, because it is an under-developed genre, and with most current visual production going to journalistic mass-media outlets, there have been rare opportunities for documentary photographers to explore creative, personal, long-term, and analytical approaches to their work. In three years, the outcome of the program has been stunning in its diversity, richness and courage, emerging Arab photographers have dared to address important social issues with an inspiring urgency, precision and originality. The themes in the photographs represent a wide range of issues including, harassment of women in the streets of Cairo, toxic skin whitening lotions for women in Sudan, alienation of women in Cairo, mining in Tunisia and Morocco, everyday violence in Baghdad, the marginal ecosystem in Beirut’s Dalieh, everyday life on Yemen’s Socotra island, agricultural farmers in the UAE, holidays for migrant workers in Kuwait, and amusement parks for women in Jeddah.
Studio Safar, a Beirut-based design outfit has been commissioned to produce a visual identity, system of display and navigation plan for the exhibition, installations and event program. The building’s history and present codes of use are inherent in the design of the event.
The opening on November 5th will be attended by around 200 invited guests and will feature the dance and music performance, the photography exhibition, Mona Hallak’s exhibition, sound and video installations and speech by AFAC Chairman Dr. Ghassan Salamé. It will host the artistic community, private sector players, AFAC institutional donors, collectors, gallerists and philanthropists. The exhibition will be open to the public 10-25 November.
The exhibition will use the repository of AFAC grantee projects to contemplate how contemporary Arab artists have engaged questions of non-conformist, representation, memory, responsibility, and empathy. It draws inspiration from the work of late American writer James Baldwin’s observations on the role of art and of the artist in times of insurgency, turbulence and blithe injustice. Moreover, borrowing from the history of Beit Beirut and the city of Beirut, the exhibition is meant to present a forward look despite all the struggles, positioning arts and culture in the foreground to imagine a better future.
Photography Works (Beit Beirut)
LIVE, LOVE, REFUGEE
Omar Imam (Syria)
This project asks how relations and dreams are affected by conflict and displacement. It is a visual evocation of the displaced who struggle to survive in their new land. Imam chose to make complex photographs, employing symbolism and surrealism, in an attempt to approach the psychological situation of his subjects. He wanted to disrupt the audience’s expectations of images of refugees and to present them with questions rather than answers.
A LOVE SONG TO SOCOTRA ISLAND
Amira Al-Sharif (Yemen)
A Love Song to Socotra Island grew from a search for inspiring and pioneering women who are making their own way in life while confronting the traditions and customs of a male dominated society. This work pays tribute to these women, and to the inner beauty, wisdom, and generosity they emanate in spite of the harsh realities of their lives. Through their courage, we see the strong beauty of their femininity and the key roles they play in our society.
REVOLUTION OF THE MIND
Mostafa Bassim (Egypt)
In the aftermath of Egypt’s 2011 uprising, many of the country’s youth have learned hard lessons about the realities of civic activism, often being subjected to intense forms of political repression by the state. Ever since, Liberal youth has faced intense social repression from within their own communities when attempting to express progressive thoughts and ideas that run contrary to traditional practices and norms. “Revolution of the Mind” portrays the traumatic accounts of Egyptian youth have been subjected to civilian-led smear campaigns due to their criticism and/or reinterpretation of the dominant political and cultural order in the post-revolution era.
This project delves into the ways in which ordinary Egyptian citizens reinforce the state’s authoritarian model of all-out mind and body control. The type of tactics employed by the state to repress political dissidents are also often used by community leaders at a local level to guard against what are deemed as “dangerous” values.
SHREDS OF LIFE
Mehdy Mariouch (Morocco)
Built in the 1927 by French colonists, the coal mine of Hassi B’lal in Jerada, Morocco, was once the largest and best in North Africa. For economic reasons, the mine of Hassi B’lal was closed in 2001. The company offered severance packages to 7,000 workers, but it was not enough for them to survive. The workers continued working at their mines illegally and in inhumane living conditions, deciding to stay and risk their lives rather than abandon their homeland. They live with an incredible amount of dignity and pride. The challenging conditions of workers is widespread throughout the mines of eastern Morocco, many of which have similar colonial histories.
WEST OF LIFE. Zied Ben Romdhane (Tunisia)
In Gafsa, a phosphate mining region in the southwest of Tunisia, a state-controlled company called CPG extracts phosphate from the hills. Mining is an important economic resource to
the Tunisian economy, and it has been practiced since Roman times. The phosphate mining now accounts for nearly 4 percent of the GDP. Workers lured from Libya, Morocco, Algeria, and around Tunisia live on this nearly uninhabitable land. Ethnic divisions, exacerbated by life in a harsh landscape, have produced disharmony between the people and nature. These incompatible parts remain in a state of constant flux and volatility. This is my testimony of the harshness of the place, balanced, I hope, by the humor of the inhabitants and my affection for them.
Nadia Bseiso (Jordan)
Infertile Crescent explores the route of the pipeline – along sites of the Dead Sea’s ancient legends, where farmers dance around sinkholes of thistle and oases of potash, and along the valley of peace and a desert yearning to meet the sea. This is an old wives tale, on the construction of a pipeline, where a geologist and a village idiot agree: The next war will be a water war.
TALES OF MOROCCAN AMAZONS
Zara Samiry (Morocco)
At a time when equestrian traditions are vanishing globally, Morocco is keeping up with its own forms, particularly with the "Fantasia" or “Tbourida". "Tbourida" refers to the traditional equestrian shows that celebrate the historic military art of Berber-Arabs and simulate their warring assaults on horses. This art form was commonly reserved for men due to its physicality and perilous aspects; women typically remained in the audience, welcoming and cheering the horse-riders with Youyous. However, young women have started to challenge this tradition in recent years. Women horse-riders, the new Amazons of today, are attempting to make their own mark in what was previously seen as an exclusive patriarchal practice.
INTERSECTIONS. Hicham Gardaf (Morocco)
This project explores city fringes and borders in Morocco, where the coexistence of contemporary society with nature is best characterized by the constant push of urban space into the land. Aside from this physical evolution/transformation, there is the invisible dimension of ideological and cultural transformation. This project frames the intersections between the pristine land and the urban space, the past and the future, modernity and tradition, and the consequent redefinition of Moroccan identity.
Mustapha Saeed (Somaliland)
Although Somaliland was founded in 1991 with a constitution that grants equality to all citizens, the reality is different. Still today the clans that livestock still have superiority, and they receive the best jobs and educational opportunities available in our developing country. The other clans are less advantaged because of who they are as a group, although there are individuals who might manage to make a decent living for themselves. This project explores the daily lives of people belonging to the discriminated clans, using photography to explore the depth and impact of segregation and discrimination.
I WANT TO BE VISIBLE
Muhammad Salah (Sudan)
Walking through the streets of Khartoum, or Nayala in South Darfur, or Port Sudan in the East, I see scarves wrapped around the heads and necks of women with bleached faces. In Sudan, skin color has been always associated with social class and power. There is a common belief that the darker you are, the poorer you are. The upper class does not work under the harsh sunlight of Khartoum. Young Sudanese men learn to prefer light-skinned women from commercials that feature skin-whitening, weight-loss, and make-up products. Women want to be seen as beautiful, and also as though they are from the powerful tribes of Sudan that have paler complexions and roots in the Arab peninsula. Colonizers thought that Arab tribes would lead the country, and the Africans would be the workers. They created a feud where the lighter is the master and the darker is the slave. The choices we make about our skin are directed not by race, but by ideology.
Eman Helal (Egypt)
Gender-based violence against women is widespread in Egypt, seemingly ingrained as a societal norm. A 2013 United Nations report found that over ninety-nine percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of gender-based abuse, whether physical, sexual, or psychological. As an Egyptian woman who faces a constant feelings anxiety in public spaces, Eman Helal decided to produce a story about the rampant sexual harassment in the streets of Egypt and the intensifying environment of fear as incidents of sexual violence continue to rise.
HOMEMADE. Heba Khalifa (Egypt)
Storytelling is a way to heal, to free ourselves from the weight of experience. The women who found the strength to stand and speak in front of the camera, this is the real gift. It gives me the strength to photograph and I hope it will give other women who are still silent the strength to open the door.
NEVER NEVER LAND. Arwa Alneami (KSA)
Still photography and video are used to present a powerful and original insight into leisure activities. Through this approach I want to convey the same feelings I had during my visit, to let my audience get closer to understanding how these women enjoy themselves, despite the red line.
AWAITING THEIR DEAD
Ahmad Mousa (Iraq)
On June 12, 2014, an estimated 1,700 Iraqi Air Force cadets were slaughtered by ISIS in Tikrit. Almost a year later, forensic teams discovered mass graves near the massacre site, containing dozens of corpses of the cadets. The ongoing investigations are continuing to determine the identities of the bodies and the fates of the others. Since the massacre took place, families of the cadets have tried in vain to get an answer on what happened to their sons; they staged protests and demanded to have more information. With no bodies to grieve for, some keep the hope that their loved ones are still alive.
THE PLACE OF PERPETUAL UNDULATIONS
Reem Falaknaz (UAE)
The Place of Perpetual Undulation is set in Ras Al Khaimah valleys, an emirate in the northern part of the United Arab Emirates. This series gives voice to the landscape there, to the mountains. Their voice is shaped by interactions with the living. The series also looks at the patterns that underlie the spaces they occupy.
THE EPIC OF DALIEH
Roï Saade (Lebanon)
In my search of how to tell the story of Dalieh, I found parallels in the epic poem “Dionysiaca,” written by Nonnus of Panopolis in the 5th century. Beroë, the goddess-nymph representing the city of Beirut in Phoenicia (modern Lebanon), was wooed by two gods, Dionysos and Poseidon, and became the object of a fierce fight between them. In their fight for the conquest of Beroë, both Gods unleash their wrath, regardless of the damage and
destruction they bring down on nature. In many ways, this story is an allegory for what is happening to Dalieh. I use the mythology as a narrative tool for addressing the rapid development of one of Beirut’s last public spaces, and for examining the relationship between society and nature.
A SMALL FOREST ON THE OTHER SIDE
Eyad Abou Kassem (Syria)
I made the photographs in this series with a small digital camera in Germany, and it is a sort of photo diary in which I try to document my new place and describe my feelings towards it.
FRIDAY GATHERING Faisal Al Fouzan (Kuwait)
Friday Gathering is an in-depth exploration of the living conditions of low-income migrant workers in Kuwait. They reside in extremely humble accommodations that border high-end neighborhoods and landmark architecture. These workers literally live on the margins of society, but play a key role in shaping and maintaining its physical environment.
SHAME(less) Iman Al Dabbagh (KSA)
Through the multi layered character encounters, I realized that I was working on unique stories that make up a bigger story: a self-portrait. A story about my memories of growing up here and about my relationship with today’s society, now as an artist and a visitor. A story of resistance, the battle between society’s expectation and what the heart desires, and a story of hope for the next generations to come.
TRACES OF CONFLICT Hamada Al Rassam (Egypt)
This project explores how post-conflict trauma in Egypt affects children, both mentally and emotionally, from all sides involved in the conflict.
Installations (Beit Beirut)
Positive Negatives: the Photo Mario Project Let us look at the Positive side
Mona Hallak (Lebanon)
In September 1994, I discovered the Barakat building on the green line that divided the city of Beirut in two throughout the 15 years of civil war that I witnessed with my family. Designed in 1924 with unique avant-garde architectural transparency, the same visual axes connecting it to the city were abused as lines of fire and death during the civil war turning it into a war machine to disconnect the city. The overlap was amazing and thus, my fight to preserve this building as the Museum of Memory of the City of Beirut. I did not imagine then that I would be still working on it 23 years later.
In one of the ground floor shops, behind the jammed rusted rolling shutter, I found the photographic archive of Photo Mario: around ten thousand bluish negatives of different formats as well as some prints and documents were scattered under dust and debris. This archive paid tribute to many bygone studio practices and to prewar days when people came to have their photos taken in the studio for different purposes and on different occasions: portraits, passport photos, family photos, baby photos, postcard like photos commemorating special moments and cherished relationships with the different backgrounds that the studio provided in its tight mezzanine space. The moment I held one of the warped negatives for the first time against the sunlight and saw the portrait looking back at me with a pair of white eyes was a revealing moment.
The negatives are time capsules: they represent at once the prewar time they were taken in, the time of resilience while the studio was abandoned both during and after the war, the time when they were found, collected, removed and started their journey as an archive, and the time that might come when they are identified by the people who recognize themselves or their family, friends or neighbors: when they have a story. Then, there is the presence of the negatives themselves as objects, almost art installations: warped, torn, stained, with the dust they have accumulated and the damage they have incurred over the years.
The shop was rented by Samuel and Manuel Ajamian in 1957 as a photography studio and was abandoned during the war like the rest of the building due to its dangerous location. Ephrem, the next door "Salon pour Dames" remembers Mario the photographer. Who is Mario and where is he today? Who are all these people looking back at us through these negatives? What stories do they have to tell about the city and the prewar days? What are their memories of their Photo Mario visit? How can we engage the public in researching this archive and through their research connect them to the city and its memory? The project stresses the role of photography as a "technology of memory" that not only documents the past but invokes it into the present.
My project is to create a platform where people would be invited to adopt one or more photos and try to identify the faces, find them or their families, try to collect their memories of the studio, the building and the city in prewar times. My interest in this project is not only the stories about the photos in the collection, but the stories of how those stories will be collected by the people who choose to be part of this project and the impact it will have on them, including the stories of failure to find relevant stories and other stories that will come through. As such the archive gets appropriated by the people in the city and the stories these people bring back will contribute to the permanent collection of Beit Beirut: stories of birth, love, family, friendship, reunion, pride, accomplishment as well as the stories of pain, fragmentation, diaspora, death, survival and resilience that might have followed; stories of the many transformations of the city and its people during the past 50 years.
Cynthia Zaven (Sound Installation, Lebanon)
PERPETUUM MOBILE is a 12 channel sound installation. There will be 12 loudspeakers hanging from the ceiling, in a circle, each separated by 1 meter. The composition attempts to emulate the process by which we perceive the passing of time, with the sound of one note moving clockwise from one speaker to the next, every second, before descending into total chaos.
BEIRUT OPEN CHANNEL, Ahmad AlKhoja (Sound Installation, Syria)
Recorded radio transmissions from Zabadani, Syria (2001), containing unedited, coded transmissions, foreign news, music and more are used to visualize the audio in an architectural sound installation.
PURPLE, BODIES IN TRANSLATION – PART II OF ‘A YELLOW MEMORY FROM THE YELLOW AGE
Joseph Namy (Video Installation, Lebanon)
single channel video with stereo sound, mirrored screen, tinted spotlights
With text by Lina Mounzer and Stefan Tarnowski
The video merely shows a color: purple, projected on a mirrored screen that allows the viewers to see their own reflection, to see themselves within the subtitled frame. The image is defined solely by what is heard: Lina Mounzer reading an excerpt from her essay 'War in Translation: Giving Voice to the Women of Syria' on the act of translation as an internalized process; and Stefan Tarnowski describing the intricacies of translating subtitles for the anonymous film collective Abounaddara and their collaborative process. The voices are woven together with threads sampled from various essays, poems, songs–addressing the poetics of purple as a feeling. This immersive installation reflects on the role of the subtitle, the details lost in translation, and what additional elements and contradictions are created by the juxtaposition between subtitles and image.
A segment from the film THE NARROW FRAME OF MIDNIGHT, directed by Tala Hadid (Morocco/Iraq)
The film unravels the interlacing destinies of three characters witnesses to a world eviscerated from within by fundamentalism and violence, as they pull close and away from each other’s journeys, rescuing one another, alternately.
Tarek Abbar (Cartographic Drawing, Spain)
By removing the navigational layers of cartography, Tarek Abbar looks for the geo-political narratives present in maps. Spending a disproportionate amount of time in the air; an early obsession was born with the stories found in the airline network maps present in timetables and inflight magazines, and their tales of expired colonial empire and pre jet era trade routes. Creating his own cartography with the airline jet as protagonist - using the various perspectives present in their orbit - the radar screen, the view from the passenger cabin - to narrate stories real or fictional of the earth below and the flight path above.
THE ARABIC MARSEILLAISE, Mazen Kerbaj (Documents from Research in Progress, Lebanon)
In February 1975, Al-Marseillaise al-‘Arabi (The Arabic Marseillaise), a play by one of the most accomplished Arab playwrights, poets and writers, Mohammad al-Maghout (1934-2006) was inaugurated at the Orly Theater in Beirut’s Hamra’s district. With Antoine Kerbaj, a star of the Lebanese stage in one of the lead roles, and Ziad Rahbani, one of Lebanon’s most well-known composers wrote the score, the play had a successful run for a month and the half with full houses. Performances came to a sudden end with the eruption of the Lebanese Civil War. In fact, the last performance was a matinée on April 13th, the official date of the beginning of the war, and the evening show was cancelled. Performances never resumed afterwards. The set remained on the theater’s stage until about the middle of the 1980s. Mysteriously, the play is almost never listed in al-Maghout’s bibliography, it seems to have lapsed into forgetting. Mazen Kerbaj’s project is to adapt al-Maghout’s text into a graphic novel to resurrect it from anonymity and reflect on the context in which it was written and performed. For this exhibition, Kerbaj is sharing the elements, traces and objects that he found while conducting research around the forgotten performances.
Music and Dance Performance (Beit Beirut)
By Sharif Sehanaoui and Taoufiq Izzediou (Lebanon/Morocco)
Beit Beirut will also host three performances of the AFAC commissioned collaboration between musician Sharif Sehnaoui and contemporary dancer Taoufiq Izeddiou. They will premier in-situ this collaboration, merging traditional forms of dance and music with a radical contemporary approach. This question has been central to Izeddiou's work, notably in his 100 Pas Presque project that takes place in popular public areas, confronting his own practice with the natural surroundings of the given location. In 2015, Sehnaoui kicked-off a new body of work exploring the use of folkloric rhythms (e.g., dabkeh, sword dance) in his very personal percussive approach to both electric and acoustic guitars.
Talks and Readings (Beit Beirut)
Four talks and readings will be hosted in the auditorium of Beit Beirut, taking place at the beginning, middle and end of the event. The lecturers include Lebanese novel writer Elias Khoury in conversation with Egyptian filmmaker Yousri Nasrallah; a curator’s talk by Rasha Salti; and Mona Hallak who will take us through the period 1994-2017 Between Heritage Preservation and Amnesia: From the Barakat Building to Beit Beirut.
Film Program (Sofil Metropolis)
A selection of award-winning AFAC-supported films:
Basma Al Sharif (Experimental, Palestine)
Diego Marcon is a man with a broken heart who journeys into the heart of the human condition on a single day that stretches between Native American territories, to the ancient city of Matera, a castle in Brittany, and the ruins of the Gaza Strip. Ouroboros, an experimental feature film, is an homage to Gaza and to hoping beyond hopelessness.
Rana Eid (Documentary, Lebanon)
On the surface, Lebanon is a vibrant city driven by consumerism and an eagerness for modern life. Beneath this façade however is a subterranean landscape of remains from the county’s macabre history, hidden from the population above. “Panoptic” explores this underground level to reveal how, although invisible, it is nonetheless present within the soul of the Lebanese people.
Bahia Bencheikh ElFegoun (Documentary, Algeria)
It all began with a question: Why did the revolution skip my country, Algeria? I look in the dictionary, around me, in the reality. I realize how much the meaning of Revolution has changed. Over the years, through the regimes, the politics and events, the terminology and its symbolism have taken on a negative connotation, a painful one. We are experiencing a sliding of meanings. Are we experiencing a sliding of revolution in Algeria?
CHILDREN OF BEIRUT
Sarah Srage (Documentary, Lebanon)
Dalieh, a small port in Beirut, is about to be relocated. In the filmmaker’s point of view, this operation is the extension of the nineties post-war reconstruction works. She films the last days of two fishermen, Naknouk and Amer in Dalieh, and intimately questions her father Nader who had taken part in the reconstruction of Beirut.
THOSE FROM THE SHORE
Tamara Stepanyan (Documentary, Lebanon)
Marseille, 2014. Dozens of Armenian asylum seekers try to survive while waiting for their applications to be considered. Forced into stillness and impotence, they live in an in- between space: between two countries, between two lives. In a time and abstract space, made of nothing, their lives escape them completely. They float in Limbo.
CHECKS AND BALANCES
Malek Bensmail (Documentary, Algeria)
From the heart of an independent newspaper in Algiers, the legendary daily El Watan, this documentary film raises the issues of freedom of the press, editorial decisions; past and current events in Algeria, state authoritarianism, terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, the issue of language, and the drive and bravery of some to confront and reveal what many would rather keep hidden.
Chadi Aoun (Short Animation, Lebanon)
Silence is the only sound. In the city of Ghabra, the price of any form of expression is death. Yet, a few free souls defying this austerity have decided to dance for life. Samt is a prelude into a dysfunctional society on the verge of implosion.
Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (Documentary, UAE/Lebanon/France)
Artist and poet, Etel Adnan and Joana met in the end of the 1990s, they quickly grew close, bound by links to a city they had never been to: Smyrna formerly, Izmir today. Joana’s paternal Greek family were forced into exile from Smyrna by the Turkish armies after the end of the Ottoman Empire. Etel’s Greek mother, was born in Smyrna, married to a Syrian officer of the Ottoman Army and exiled to Lebanon after the fall of the empire. Etel and Joana lived in an imaginary Smyrna (today Izmir), without ever setting foot there. At present, both find themselves engaged with questions around the transmission of history, the attachment to objects, places, image-less mythologies and fictions. In confronting the sorrows inherited from parents, Etel Adnan wonders how it is possible to make a life from without nostalgia, and not live in a perennial present. The two women’s personal stories weave a background to the radical changes that took place in the region after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the emergence of borders. The film, co-directed by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, part of their project I Stared at Beauty So Much, interrogates notions of identity, belonging and nationalism, it also invokes poetry as a tool for resisting barbarians.