18.15 Uhr, Rämistr. 73, 8006 Zürich, Hörsaal RAK-E-8
Like the Snail with its Shell: Abounaddara and Artisanal Video
In 2017, I translated a manifesto-like statement titled “We are not artists” by Abounaddara, an anonymous collective of Syrian filmmakers. The statement was read out, somewhat incongruously, by Abounaddara’s spokesperson Charif Kiwan at the press conference for the opening of documenta 14 in Athens, an event they were uneasily participating in. I wasn’t at the press conference, but it didn’t lead to much comment apart from an Artforum blog claiming that they “didn’t really buy it”. In the statement, Abounaddara claim they are “not artists”, but rather “artisans”. Why did Abounaddara make that claim at arguably the art world’s most important event, which they were participating in? What does it mean with regards to political and social theory, as well as artistic and aesthetic practice, for Abounaddara to claim that they are artisans and not artists? And how might artisanship open up ways for thinking and viewing the films of Abounaddara?
Stefan Tarnowski is a writer and translator who lives in Beirut. A PhD Candidate in Anthropology at Columbia University, his dissertation “Struggling with Images: Revolution, War and Media in Syria”, a reading of the infrastructural, epistemological, and affective dimensions of the Syrian revolution and war and the work of its activists, develops a conceptual analysis of political possibilities and their foreclosure in Syria over the past decade. His research was funded by a Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, the Max Weber Stiftung’s Deutsches Orient-Institut Doctoral Fellowship, and Columbia University’s Humanities War and Peace Initiative. His writing has appeared in the London Review of Books, Film Quarterly, Art Asia Pacific, and Open Democracy among others. He has also worked as a researcher and subtitler for a number of artists and filmmakers.
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