Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme
May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth
The exhibition May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth deals with questions concerning the preservation of memory. The focus lies on how people bear witness to and narrate experiences of violence, loss, displacement, and forced migration through performance. In their works, the artists continuously deal with different forms of resistance and poetic manifestation through dance, music, and language. The two spatial installations May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth: Only sounds that tremble through us (2020-22) and Where the soil has been disturbed (2022) on the first floor of the museum take up these expressive practices and offer visitors a new perspective on how experiences of loss and expressions of resistance from Arabic-speaking contexts can be communicated, archived, and preserved.
The works on display are, on the one hand, a multi-channel video and sound piece based largely on filmed footage and written texts by the artists, as well as new performances developed with the musicians Makimakkuk, Haykal, Julmud and the dancer Rima Baransi from Ramallah. Further the immersive work May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth: Only sounds that tremble through us (2020-22) addresses mourning and overlooked forms of resistance in everyday practices. On the other hand, the work Where the soil has been disturbed (2022) shows photographically captured scenes and dried plants from Palestine that symbolize loss and resilience in its various forms. The artists’ archive, which consists of found video clips, their own recordings, written and spoken stories, and collected objects, forms the basis for the work. The archived memories that Abbas and Abou-Rahme have located and recorded in and around Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Yemen both in the real and digital space, contain song, dance, performance as well as expressions of protest. Together, they transmit physical manifestations of a collective memory that revolt against the erasure of marginalised communities in the Arabic-speaking context and lay claim to geographical right to exist, political self-determination and living together in community. The individual and collective memories live on in the work of Abbas and Abou-Rahme and become effective as counter-designs to colonial as well as capitalist narratives and discourses of the West.
The exhibition title May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth can consequently be read as a reminder or call to resist forgetting as well as the erasure of histories. Through the exhibition, the artist’s work against a systematic repression supported by political systems of power.
May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth is co-commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Dia Art Foundation, New York.
Curator: Dr. Michael Birchall, Curator, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst
Curatorial Assistant: Joel Spiegelberg, Trainee, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst
The first part of Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth (2020–22), subtitled Postscript: After everything is extracted, launched in December, 2020, as part of Dia’s Artist Web Projects. In March, 2022, the digital platform expanded with the launch of the second part of May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth, which includes nearly 170 videos from the artists’ extensive collection of found and unedited online recordings of performances.