Touching on the shared but distinct modes and agendas of the witness, the documentarian, the journalist, and the archivist, Khaled Jarrar, Lamia Joreige, and Charif Kiwan of Abounaddara—in dialogue with Curatorial Associate Natalie Bell—address their practices in relation to contemporary politics, historiography, and the crafting of possible futures.
Khaled Jarrar (b. 1976 Jenin, Palestine; lives and works in Ramallah, Palestine) documents the physical, political, and social barriers erected to restrict the daily movements of Palestinians. Jarrar served as a soldier in the Palestinian Presidential Guard while studying interior design at the Palestinian Polytechnic University. He then went on to study photography and the visual arts, gradually adopting an interdisciplinary approach in order to address the problems of his homeland. Jarrar moves between documentary film, photography, and sculpture, evoking the physical and psychological impacts of regulations, security checkpoints, and walls in an effort to imagine a world in which they may be overcome. Jarrar’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Galerie Polaris, Paris, Art Istanbul International, Galerie Guy Bärtschi, Geneva, Al-Mahatta Gallery, Ramallah, and the International Academy of Art Palestine, Ramallah. His works have been included in group exhibitions and screenings at Thessaloniki Biennial, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Barbican, London, Sharjah Biennal, Berlin Biennial, and Alwan Film Festival, New York.
Lamia Joreige (b. 1972 Beirut, Lebanon; lives in Beirut) creates videos and installations that often navigate the tension between highly subjective recollections and a common narrative of a shared past. Culling archival documents and excavating material traces, Joreige calls attention to how memories, objects, and documents are all subject to interpretation—and how fact and fiction can, at times, be hard to distinguish. Joreige’s works have been exhibited and screened at Tate Modern, London, Kunsthalle Wien, Sharjah Biennial, International Center of Photography, New York, the Lebanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Modern Art, Oxford, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, Rotterdam International Film Festival, and the Images Festival, Toronto.
Charif Kiwan is the spokesperson for the anonymous filmmaking collective known publically as Abounaddara, whose project began with a Facebook post in April 2011, one month after the start of large-scale demonstrations throughout Syria. The collective’s first post included a short video titled Que faire? [What to do?], which suggested the need to produce images of the developing events. What was initially a close group of self-taught filmmakers in Damascus grew into a larger production company that incorporates many voices and perspectives, telling the stories of Syrians living amid the social turmoil that has since become an ongoing civil war. Collectively sharing files online or smuggling flash drives with traveling friends, Abounaddara posts one video each week, working in what they call “emergency cinema” to highlight the urgency of the moment, the need to bear witness, and the importance of producing images that counter state television broadcasts. Films from the Abounaddarra collective have been screened internationally, including at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, New York and London, Sundance Film Festival, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, Visions du Réel, Nyon, Switzerland, University of Chicago, Institut des Cultures d’Islam, Paris, Human Rights Project at Bard College, New York, and Docslisboa International Film Festival.