the coalition of spiritual objects
︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎ upcoming dates for exhibitons / live happenings:
17 March - 10 April 2023 Kunsthal Aarhaus, Copenhagen, Denmark
June 2023 (Exact dates / location TBC) Alexandria, Egypt
In the fictional world this work inhabits, objects have created The Coalition of Spiritual Objects; an entity to bring them together and to create solidarity amongst themselves, as well as human allies, who are willing to help the objects fight for their agency and self determination. To a great degree, the objects invite human allies who are able to hear them, to do work towards their (the objects’) liberation.
The main goal of the coalition is to fight “anti-spiritist sentiments”, which they believe is a fascist ontology and structure, designed by racist, imperio-colonial capitalist hetero-patriarchal forces which are now embedded in all systems of culture and art, enforcing ideals, values (and deities) which the Coalition is working against.
In the first iteration of this project, Chapter 1, the artist (me) finds their way into working for the coalition by way of telepathic communication between themself and a faceless Sphinx in Alexandria. The sphinx does the emotional labor of educating the artist on urgent matters regarding objects right, by way of telling stories from her the sphinx’s life. Chapter 1 took the shape of a 2-channel video installation and live performance lecture. The video installation and live performance were presented at Cittadellarte Fondazione Pistoletto Onlus in July 2022 as part of an exhibition that culminates the residency Caravan: Thinking with Alexandria, and in Kunstal Aarhaus in an exhibition by the same name.
The Glittery Surface of the Water; As I Was Pulled Away from Home
2- Channel video installation
Collaboration with Rym Jalil ( camera & editing) and Dalia Omran (sound)
The video stars the Faceless Sphinx of Abu Qir in Alexandria as its protagonist. The sphinx attempts to communicate to a person who will help her with her cause. The video is a meditation on her current state and surroundings, in contrast with the environment which had been her home for longest, underwater in Alexandria, as she narrates the story of her extraction. Accompanying the video is a second screen, a digital scroll featuring rolling text in Arabic, English and Italian. The script is a correspondence between the Faceless Sphinx of Abu Qir in Alexandria and the Bearded Sphinx of King Hatshepsut of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Through the correspondences the Faceless Sphinx shared with the artist, we learn more about the life and conditions of both statues in their current state.
I am currently working on chapter 2, in which the faceless sphinx searches for a “dream mask” (an AR/VR like object invented by Octavia Butler in the Parable of Talents). The mask is a relic of the future-past that will shed light on deities and indoctorinations that may end up reminding the Faceless Sphinx of purpose as a being.
My Statement of Behalf of the Coalition (15-minute Performance Lecture, followed by Q&A)
Through this performance lecture, the artist invites the audience to think about relations between humans and objects, invoking concepts of sensitization, empathy and compassion, and the subjectification of objects. More specifically, the artist introduces the Coalition of Spiritual Objects ( a fictional coalition, invented by the artist herself, assumed to be real within the performance as well as the Q&A), and how she came to be a part of this coalition through acts of listening and care.
The performance text is a meditation on colonial objectification, drawing on ideas of pink washing and indigeneity as a way of historicizing the extraction of objects for the sake of display.
The performance uses vocabulary and languaging which echo revolutionary demands, especially similar to rhetoric from the Egyptian uprisings of 2011, giving a sense of collectivity. And yet, the text combines this collective tone with multiple personal narratives: the artists, that of the coalition as whole organism, as well as words from Bearded Sphinx of King Hatshepsut of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, another main character of in the work. Through this negotiation between the collective and the multiplicity of the personal narrative, the work draws on queer and feminist frameworks of solidarity and resistance. This performance took place as part of the public programming in July 2022 at Cittadellarte as part of the same exhibiton along with the 2-channel video installation.