Syria Off Frame opens in NYC

“Syria Off Frame”, the exhibition I curated last year within the Imago Mundi Project that features 141 Syrian artists, just opened last monday at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NYC.

 

Syria_off_frame_NYC.JPG

Meanwhile, we launched the catalogue of the exhibition in three languages (Italian-English-Arabic). For those who are interested, you can find it here.

These are some of the amazing review articles that we’ve got so far (we hope to have more, and more than everything we hope that other countries will host “Syria Off Frame” and feature the beauty and the power of contemporary Syrian art):

La Siria oltre la guerra in centoquaranta opere d’arte

“Syria Off Frame”, 140 artisti interpretano il dramma del Paese

“Syria Off Frame”, la Siria degli artisti che non si lascia incorniciare 

La fuga, il dolore e la resistenza. Geografia dell’arte siriana di oggi 

“Syria off frame”. La Siria che resta: artisti tra testimonianza, resistenza e speranza

“Syria Off Frame”

“Syria Off Frame”, contemporary artists beyond the cliches

Syrian vision, Venetian view

Syria in sight 

 

 

 

 

Varoufakis’ DiEM25 and the politics of the self(ie)

Last week I entered the Acquario Romano, a historic gorgeous building in the surroundings of the main train station in Rome, eager to breath some fresh air in the lately very depressing hallways of politics.

Yannis Varoufakis was there to launch his newborn movement, DiEM25: an ambitious name that stands for “Democracy in Europe Movement” while the 25 sets in the year 2025  the deadline for the dream to come true. Young activists in their thirties had gathered there from all across Italy to meet the former Greek minister of Finance and volunteer to make the movement come to life. I heard a group of Danish young professionals telling their Italian peers how they would book a cheap airline flight and AirB&B a few nights in Rome just to be there and help out. I saw the familiar faces of long time activists and political theorists Toni Negri and Franco Berardi BIFO standing  next to an energetic and casually dressed Varoufakis, ready to speak to the crowds about this Europe of us, that “will either be democratized or it will disintegrate”, as the movement motto states.

The gorgeous hall of the building was full of energy and great expectations when, to my greatest disappointment, Varoufakis – who professes to be a marxist – clarifies that DiEM25 is not a left-wing movement, but a movement that aims at reaching out to the entire political spectrum, including liberals, right-wing: literally anyone. Being a long time leftist activist I have to confess that I shivered once heard the sentence. Dear Varoufakis, you such a brilliant, cultivated man, the former hope of European left-wing movements who celebrated you when you walked out the bankers’ meeting on your motorbike: now that you can choose your own path, start your own movement, you, despite professing to be a marxist, decide that anyone should be included in it?

Feeling very uncomfortable I ask myself:  does democratizing ultimately mean including everyone into something? Does the erasing of legitimate political differences and identities naturally imply to be democratic? I am horrified by this idea of one-size-fits-all democracy which, in my view, turns into a populistic version of a “DemoCrazy” instead.

 

Yet, being a very curious – and, generally, optimistic – person and a patient ethnographer, I decide to stay, regardless of my poor little leftist self being very frustrated by the idea of the one-size-fits-all DemoCrazy circulating around the gorgeous building. So, when the plenary assembly with Varoufakis is over and it’s time for splitting into smaller groups to discuss crucial issues for the future of Europe with fellow activists peers, I sit with the “democracy” group. The group has a 30 something people, sitting in a circle, and is moderated by a young blu-eyed guy who speaks in English, being the crowd a truly European crowd. Somebody sitting in the middle of the circle holds a huge piece of white paper and, with a red marker, writes some key words on it.

“How will democracy look like in 2025”, that’s the main question that the group needs to answer to: a creative, imaginative effort whose results will be translated into key words to be written on the poster, which will be later hung on the walls for public contemplation.

“Imagine yourself in ten years from now” is a familiar question to anyone who has sat, at least once in a lifetime, in a job interview with an American employer. After working for five years for a Silicon-Valley based organization the white piece of paper , with colored sticky notes progressively mushrooming on it as everybody at the table engaged in the imaginative effort, was also a familiar scenario. I might sound quite an old-fashioned leftist activist, but I don’t see anything particularly European or particularly democratic in the sticky notes; and not even in the one-minute imaginative effort of seeing yourself – together with democracy–  projected in a ten years time. I understand that this might be an ice-breaker for a crowd who has just met; I understand that there is a time issue when five or more round table discussions have to wrap up and present their “results” in a plenary.

Yet I question the form as it hints to a very specific substance: the mere idea that democracy should be debated in a sort of “unconference” format which would give it enough coolness, openness, and horizontality not to be considered a topic heavy to digest. Is the precarious flexibility of the sticky notes; the time-sensitive creativity of key words; the coolness of geek formats à la Silicon-Valley a good answer to our thirst for democracy?

Cause there is, indeed, a craving for a more fair, democratic politics: and that’s why Varoufakis’ meeting was crowded and filled with hopes. But also with disappointment, as I heard a young man with a southern Italian accent saying in the plenary: “this seems like a business meeting rather than a gathering to start a new political movement”. Which completely resonates with my own frustration, after having heard words such as: self-empowerment, initiative, enterprise, sustainability, pitching. Can we get rid of neoliberalism at least in the words we use to imagine politics? Or is it so dramatically enmeshed into our daily jargon that we don’t even notice that discussing politics has become like talking about the stock market, or trying to impress your future boss in the most awesome job interview?

The answer to my unspoken question comes from a woman, a young volunteer who reacts to the remark made by the southern Italian man. “What do you mean? There is no such a thing as a political movement here. We gave you input: now you have to build the movement by yourself. Nothing is ready-made here”. She has been honest, at least: input was the right word, a perfect word for a neoliberal vocabulary. Input gives the right measure of time, when there is no time for discussion.

“We are here to launch the movement”, people say; which is totally coherent with the Twitter mantra: write first, verify later. Launch first, discuss later, as there is no time to discuss something that will be anyway measured later by the likes and shares of the social media universe.

Varoufakis’ performance will be also assessed not as a political performance but rather as an aesthetic one. No need to bother Rancière to grasp the political implications of those aesthetic experiences named “selfies” that I see blossoming on my Facebook wall portraying Varoufakis and Anna, Varoufakis and Emma, Varoufakis and Francesca.

The experience of arousal is aestheticized through those young female faces smiling with their object of desire. Varoufakis has been fetishized by this politics of the selfie, and he seems to have learned the lesson so well.

No collective identities are moved by the politics of the self(ie); just individual bodies in desperate need of personal experiences of temporary arousal.

If we want to counteract neoliberal politics, rising racism, xenophobia, extremism, austerity, sadness, financial and human depression, we badly need a politics of the orgy, a collective arousal of bodies and souls. And orgy has always been a much more satisfying way to reach pleasure than a lonely masturbatory selfi(e)sh act.

I Guardiani delle Immagini — Siria al Teatro Valle Occupato

Siete tutti invitati, sabato 9 marzo, a partire dalle 18.30…

 

I GUARDIANI DELLE IMMAGINI

Un work in progress su immagini, testi, musica, social media, e altre suggestioni dalla rivoluzione siriana

 

Bleeding-Syria_web

 

 

Raccontare quello che sta succedendo in Siria, da due anni a questa parte, è doloroso. Doloroso parlare di morti, violenza, bombardamenti, sangue versato quotidianamente, rifugiati, sfollati. Una tragedia a cui assistiamo, attraverso sottili schermi di computer e televisori ad attuttirci il senso di realtà e di dolore. 

 

Eppure, insieme alla violenza, ogni giorno dalla Siria emerge la vita. Emerge dalle poesie, dalla musica, dai disegni, dalle immagini, dall’arte che in ogni (maledetto) giorno di morte i siriani trasformano in un’ode disperata al vivere. La societa` civile siriana non ha mai smesso di essere attiva, e creativa, nel silenzio dei media e dei politici, troppo concentrati a costruire scenari per il “giorno dopo”, mentre il presente viene messo da parte, con tutte le sue imbarazzanti domande e l’immobilita` del mondo. 

La Siria resiste, anche creativamente, al dolore, e anche creativamente dimostra, a chi non la vuole capace di scegliersi il suo futuro e il suo diritto alla dignita`, di essere una societa` matura che puo` e deve essere libera da ogni tipo di oppressione.
Questo è un tentativo di raccontare la Siria e la sua resistenza creativa attraverso le immagini, i suoni, gli atti, che affollanno il caos di Internet e delle strade del paese. Abbiamo provato ad estrarli dalla rete, ad evocarli e a contestualizzarli.
Siamo persone diverse, con esperienze e vite diverse, ma ci ha unito la voglia di provare a raccontare un paese e il suo presente attraverso le schegge di creatività e dolore che il suo popolo immette nella rete, come un messaggio nella bottiglia, lasciato vagare nel mare nella speranza che un giorno qualcuno lo legga.
Abbiamo aperto un workshop, un’officina produttiva che, nel corso di oltre un mese, è stata frequentata da arabi e italiani, traduttori, studenti, ricercatori, musicisti, scenografi, attori…
Abbiamo vagliato suoni e immagini, letto e riletto testi, discusso problematiche. Come si fa a raccontare un popolo creativamente mentre sta soffrendo?
“I guardiani delle immagini” (un verso di una splendida poesia del siriano Golan Hajj) non è uno spettacolo teatrale. Sono scene, frammenti, schegge di vita reale della Siria di oggi catapultate attraverso il web e che noi, tutti insieme, abbiamo provato a incollare  nell`officina vivente del Teatro Valle Occupato affinchè parlino ancora di dolore e di vita, di amore per la vita.
E` il nostro tentativo di raccontare il presente, aperto e in-progress, a cui faranno seguito altri capitoli, altri tentativi…
E` il nostro omaggio alla Siria e alla dignità del suo popolo.
testi Mohamed Dibo | Khawla Duniya | Golan Hajj | Linda Hussein | Fadwa Suleiman | Omar Suleiman
immagini Tammam Azzam | studenti dell’Università di Aleppo
con Wasim Abo Azan | Mohamed Abo Hajjar | Mehdi Achour Bouakkaz |  Alessandro Alec | Alessandra Amorello | Camilla Carè | Yasmine Fedda | Abdulnasir al Hazan | Ahmad Kzzo |  Linda Sessa | Adam Talleh |
contenuti a cura di Donatella Della Ratta | Yasmine Fedda
supervisione Veronica Cruciani
realizzazione e produzione Teatro Valle Occupato
 traduzioni Mehdi Achour Bouakkaz | Donatella Della Ratta | Giovanni Marinelli | Caterina Pinto
un ringraziamento speciale a
Associazione Siria libera e democratica | Comitato Medici Siriani | Federica Migliotti |Muta Imago

Lezione di Rivoluzione a Reggio Emilia

Una segnalazione last minute che mi e` arrivata da Tommaso di Egypt-a dream in progress

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Vi segnalo un’iniziativa importante di un gruppo di giovanissimi attivisti italoegiziani, “Giovani che amano l’Egitto”, che non si sono fatti scoraggiare dalle recenti vicissitudini politiche e hanno organizzato per Venerdì 29, a Reggio Emilia, un incontro con Asmaa Aly e Malek Adly, due attivisti  di piazza Tahrir legati al movimento del 6 Aprile.

L’obiettivo è continuare a parlare di rivoluzione e portare all’attenzione di tutti le difficoltà e le esperienze di chi lotta per i diritti e per la democrazia. 

Asmaa Aly è anche responsabile media della campagna dei giovani per un giovane presidente (Khaled Ali) e responsabile Cospe per le pari opportunità e i diritti delle donne in Egitto. Malek Adly è stato difensore nei principali processi penali contro gli attivisti della rivoluzione e protagonista nelle principali cause di questo ultimo anno contro le violenze della giunta militare.
L’incontro, moderato dal prof. Damiano Razzoli, è fissato per le ore 18 all’Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia – viale Allegri n° 9, Reggio Emilia – 2° piano – aula 8.  

Due parole in più sugli organizzatori: i “Giovani che amano l’Egitto” sono basati a Reggio Emilia e lavorano da mesi per favorire la partecipazione politica degli egiziani in Italia alle elezioni e ad altre iniziative.
Durante le recenti consultazioni per il presidente, hanno allestito un servizio di assistenza per spiegare le procedure di voto dall’estero e informare le persone sui propri diritti. Lavorano in rete da sempre con diverse associazioni reggiane.

Per altre informazioni giovanicheamanolegitto@hotmail.it

Produrre informazione/Produrre azione

Oggi e domani al Valle Occupato, uno degli spazi di discussione artistica e politica piu interessanti dell`ultimo decennio a Roma, terro` un seminario dal titolo “Produrre informazione/Produrre azione” sull`uso dei social media a scopo informativo ma anche di attivismo. Il seminario e` aperto a tutti e libero.

Ulteriori informazioni sulla pagina del Valle. 

Egypt hackerspace meet up in Cairo

I`d like to point you to this event happening today in Cairo, which might be inspiring for those of you that share an interest in open source culture and creative spaces for peer-production. Visit the Facebook page for more info.

 

Egypt Hackerspace Meetup in Cairo – Meetup Al Wadaa3

Time
Thursday, October 13 · 4:30pm – 8:00pm

Location

Created By

More Info
هل أنت مهتم بانشاء مساحة مجتمع للإبداع، مشاريع مفتوحة المصدر، إضافات أنيقة، فن، و صداقات؟ إذن هناك مثلك مئات المصرين! إنضم لنا هذا الخميس لنتكلم عن أفضل كيفية إنشاء hackerspace مصري!

Hundreds of Egyptians have shown interest in creating a community space for creativity, open source projects, neat hacks, art and friendship.

Let’s bring together all the minds from Alexandria, Mansoura and Cairo hackerspace meetup to talk with Cairo Hackerspace members and the GEMSI crew before the GEMSI team leaves Cairo! We’ll be providing pizza, a platform to talk about your ideas and projects and lots of good energy.

Join us this Thursday 4:22PM at:
http://g.co/maps/ea6a7
A is Cairo university main gate
B is the faculty (where you want to be)
Faculty of Computers and Information, Cairo University
Seminar Room 1

Wrapping up the Third Arab Bloggers meeting

I`ve just returned after a long week  of travels, the most exciting of them being the days spent in Tunis for the third Arab Bloggers meeting (#AB11).

I attended the second one in Beirut, 2009, and thought this was awesome. The atmosphere at the time was that of “something in the making”.

It was two years ago and that feeling has proved right. This crowd has been the protagonist, each of them in his/her own country, of  this phenomenal 2011. Each of these people, together with the Arab youth of each country, had proven to be able to contribute, online and offline, to the shaping of a new future of the Arab region.

Two years ago I felt there was a kind of “cultural panarabism”, a feeling of unity pervading the meeting. This time it was even stronger.

When the Palestinian bloggers and activists were denied the entry visa by the Tunisian Ministry of Interior (without giving any acceptable reason), all the other Arab participants have raised in solidarity. We have made petitions,formal statements, press-releases, got all the mainstream media to talk about this (the evidence: when, few days ago, I walked into my Monaco hotel to join the jury of the Anna Lindht award, all the people there -a totally different crowd from the Arab bloggers- pointed out: it`s a real shame that the new Tunisia prevented the Palestinians to join the #AB11 meeting!). We have had a Skype call with them to let them join the sessions and put all their pictures on empty chairs in a symbolic protest for their unjustified absence.

picture by Ibtihel Zaatouri under CC BY license

I`ve attended so many conferences where officials make statements about Palestine and Palestians, and inter-Arab solidarity. This is the first time I`ve felt people being together, despite not being physically together.

There is something this Arab youth shares, beyond rhetoric. The Arab Springs have strengthened this feeling which has been in the making during the past years thanks to physical meet-ups but of course thanks to the Internet and the social networks.

Now there are best practices shared, together with pictures, videos, links, information.

This Arab youth is truly Pan-Arab. One`s revolution is everybody else`s revolution. One`s freedom is gonna be everybody else`s freedom.

The tools are there. Again, the #AB11 is a great mix of tech training (whether it is about learning cyber security or how to live video stream from the streets) and learning from others` experiences and direct participation. Sami Ben Gharbeia, Malek Khadhraoui and Astrubaal `s reflections on Tunisian revolution and the role played by their portal Nawaat have enlightened and inspired so many people in the #AB11 crowd. Bloggers from Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, have also contributed to the debate by  bringing focusing on each of these countries and on their own direct experience in terms of citizens and activists. Pearls that you will never get on mainstream media.

But the novelty of this edition is how do we move to the next step, i.e. how do we empower people to do a better and citizen-media based cover for the upcoming elections in Tunisia and Egypt, and generally speaking how do we get people actively involved in the democratic process of rebuilding the institutions and the country itself. A very interesting panel, coordinated by Global Voices` Solana Saurus, has been held at the #AB11 on this very issue, with lots of insights coming from Tunisians, Egyptians, and Libyans,too.

For me one of the most interesting panel was the one which featured the Tunisian bloggers who are running for elections debating about their different visions of the constitutional assembly, the alliances among them or with other groups, their ideas towards mobilizing people, etc. Thanks to Jillian c.York we have great notes of the session.

The key question during the upcoming months is exactly this: how do we turn the regime change that was accomplished in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, into political and social change? and how do we turn the blogging and activism that was “in opposition” to dictatorships into a proactive force that reaches out to the ground and helps democracy to emerge?

#AB11 variety of panels and voices has given a great contribution to this debate. In two weeks Tunis will make the first move, by hosting the first democratic elections in the Region since long time. And the Tunisian bloggers and activists will play an important role in these elections which hopefully will later be a key role in the future of the country, too.

 

You can find a great coverage of the meeting on the Arab Bloggers official website, on Global Voices and on some blogs (like Jillian C. York`s).

Arab Bloggers site has also collected many interesting videos from Tunisia Live and hopefully will publish soon the sessions that have been filmed.

Ibtihel Zaatouri has a great Flickr stream of the meeting and there is also a Storify report about it.

Thanks to Sami and the Nawaat team, all the wonderful Global Voices people, Doreen and Hiba from Heinrich Boll for organizing this inspiring meeting.