Nile Sunset Annex, Double Dummy Problem, digital collage, 2022.

Read the Room Festival
Starting 8:30pm on 24, 25, 26 March, 2022
Kaaistudio’s
Brussels

Read the Room is the premiere edition of a biennial collaboration between Mophradat and Kaaitheater which takes the form of a three-day multi-disciplinary festival that’s looking in at the art community, and in different formats explores questions that we should be collectively asking ourselves as artists and publics. The title “Read the Room” is a forceful and humorous expression implying a need to be confronted or nudged out of complacency – in essence the project highlights where and how we get stuck in norms. Looking back at our last two years of reflection, the notion of “mother” with all its tangled territories (motherhood, tongues, nature, land…), acts as the theme of this edition of the festival. Hinted at, reflected upon, addressed head-on, “mother” comes in and out of these newly commissioned projects.

The program is anchored around six newly commissioned monologues and dialogues by Dina Mimi, Karim Kattan, Lina Soualem, Mohammad Shawky Hassan, Noor Alsamarrai, and Sahar Mandour, and adapted by artist Noor Abed for a live staging. Also presented are Mary Jirmanus Saba collaborates with Natasha Soobramanien and Krystel Koury on an audio-visual talk, Alaa Abu Asad and Bekriah Mawasi explore what language engenders for and between them, and Geo Wyeth continues his poetic attempt at throwing the past into the future. Anouchka Oler Nussbaum and Nile Sunset Annex each teach the audience a skill they’ve found useful to their practices. And two evenings close with new musical performances by Bint Mbareh and Deena Abdelwahed, the former to bring us to sleep and the latter to the complete opposite.

 

Thursday 24 March, 2022

Mary Jirmanus Saba
A Labor Theory of Artistic Value, or on Mothering and Artistic Genius
Audio-visual talk
25 mins

Exploring the intersections between gendered reproductive labor that keeps the cultural space in motion, and the reproductive labor of motherhood, this collaborative performance combines video projection, a delivered text, and a performative act of cultural maintenance. For this talk, Mary collaborates with novelist Natasha Soobramanien (UK/Belgium) and Krystel Khoury reads (Lebanon/France).

Mary Jirmanus Saba (1983, Lebanon/USA) is a geographer and filmmaker. She is currently on Instagram @nomaternityleave where she documents her developing collaborative practice with Nada Ziane (b. 2019) and Seri Kamil (b. 2021).

Noor Abed
Mother: A Choreography of Readings Part #1
Audio-visual talk
55 mins

Noor Abed creates a staged reading of six monologues and dialogues written by different writers, artists, and filmmakers commissioned for this festival with the theme “mother” vaguely running through them. In this live staging of the texts, Noor offers her own interpretations using sound, video, and performance for which she collaborates with five performers: Désirée Cerocién, Fleur Khani, Lore Uyttendaele, Nathaniel Moore, and Parvin Saljoughi.

The texts presented this evening are “Fig Tree” by visual artist Dina Mimi (b. 1994, Palestine), “Lose Weight Now” by filmmaker Mohammad Shawky Hassan (b. 1981, Egypt), and “Mama” by novelist Sahar Mandour (b. 1977, Lebanon).

Mohammad Shawky Hassan’s “Lose Weight Now” uses adapted texts from An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine, Blue Aubergine by Miral Al-Tahawy, A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark, and The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Sahar Mandour’s “Mama” is translated from the Arabic original by Yasmine Haj.

Noor Abed (b.1988, Palestine) is an interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker. Her practice examines notions of choreography and the imaginary relationship of individuals, creating situations where social possibilities are both rehearsed and performed. In 2020 she co-founded, with Lara Khaldi, the “School of Intrusions,” an independent educational platform in Ramallah, Palestine.

Bint Mbareh
The Anti-Lullaby Workshop
Music
30 mins

The Anti-Lullaby Workshop is an attempt to put oneself to sleep. The songs in this performance originate from Palestinian folklore. In their past lives they served not only to lull toddlers to sleep, but also as a space-maker for mothers who used their own voice to soothe themselves. The lullaby serves as a tool to sing both to the self and to reimagine an intergenerational memento of (self?) care.

Bint Mbareh (b.1995, Palestine) is an aspiring musician with ambitions to bend time through trance and other traditional techniques. She uses research into Palestinian folklore to resuscitate archives thwarted by the modern nation building project. Bint Mbareh then transforms them into music, from rain summoning songs that actually cause rain to lullabies that connect mothers to themselves and to their babies.

 

Friday 25 March, 2022

Alaa Abu Asad and Bekriah Mawasi
Stuttering Gestures
Audio-visual performance
35 mins

“Stuttering Gestures” is an audiovisual live performance that contemplates movement, stillness, and silence as a formative succession. The artists observe fragmented stories, bodies, sounds and gestures are presented in rhythmic repetition that echoes words and images from conversations and chats on language, dialects, and speech.

Artist, researcher, and photographer Alaa Abu Asad (b.1989, Palestine) develops alternative trajectories in which (re)presentation, translation, looking, reading and understanding can intersect. His work takes form in writing, film and interactive installations, in which he visualizes his research and methodology of exploring the boundaries of languages.

Bekriah Mawasi (b. 1987, Palestine) is a writer, artist, and translator. She explores movement in space, visual culture, and contemporary literature. Her work includes nonfiction essays, short stories, poetry, and illustrations.

“Stuttering Gestures” was developed as part of a series of retreats curated by Mophradat titled “Ungendering Language” in 2021. With thanks to Aziza Gorgi.

Anouchka Oler Nussbaum
Learning How to Speak Again
Performance
20 mins

Ventriloquism etymologically refers to someone who speaks from the stomach. As the voice is no longer fluctuated by the movement of the mouth, it seems to come from elsewhere. From lower down perhaps, allowing one to finally say what one’s stomach thinks. In this performance Anouchka will teach you how to speak through other bodies, have conversations with objects, make them speak or say what you really think with a smile. Learn how to speak multiple voices, plural, from elsewhere, again.

Anouchka Oler Nussbaum (b. 1988, France) lives in Brussels. Her videos and performances are at once magic tricks, stand-up comedy, and experimental philosophy. The sculptures, objects, animals, and people who take part in them carry out jubilant and burlesque heuristic quests in search of ways of being in the world that are cathartic, reparatory, and emancipatory.

Noor Abed
Mother: A Choreography of Readings Part #2
Performance
55 mins

Noor Abed creates a staged reading of six monologues and dialogues written by different writers, artists, and filmmakers commissioned for this festival with the theme “mother” vaguely running through them. In this live staging of the texts, Noor offers her own interpretations using sound, video, and performance for which she collaborates with five performers: Désirée Cerocién, Fleur Khani, Lore Uyttendaele, Nathaniel Moore, and Parvin Saljoughi.

The texts presented this evening are “Rewind (or Rematch?)” by Karim Kattan (b. 1989, Palestine), “Stuck in the Middle” by Lina Soualem (b. 1990, Palestine/Algeria/France), and “Food” by Noor Alsamarrai (b. 1992, Iraq/USA).

Noor Abed (b.1988, Palestine) is an interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker. Her practice examines notions of choreography and the imaginary relationship of individuals, creating situations where social possibilities are both rehearsed and performed. In 2020 she co-founded, with Lara Khaldi, the “School of Intrusions,” an independent educational platform in Ramallah, Palestine.

 

Saturday 26 March, 2022

Mary Jirmanus Saba
A Labor Theory of Artistic Value, or on Mothering and Artistic Genius
Audio-visual talk
25 mins

Exploring the intersections between gendered reproductive labor that keeps the cultural space in motion, and the reproductive labor of motherhood, this collaborative performance combines video projection, a delivered text, and a performative act of cultural maintenance. For this talk Mary collaborates with novelist Natasha Soobramanien (UK/Belgium) and Krystel Khoury reads (Lebanon/France).

Mary Jirmanus Saba (1983, Lebanon/USA) is a geographer and filmmaker. She is currently on Instagram @nomaternityleave where she documents her developing collaborative practice with Nada Ziane (b. 2019) and Seri Kamil (b. 2021).

Nile Sunset Annex
Double Dummy Defense
Film
15 mins

Jenifer and Taha recently moved to a countryside village in the south of France. They are learning how to run the village grocery shop and how to play bridge with the local bridge club. Both activities have been useful to Jenifer and Taha in their attempts to assimilate, engage with the community, and learn French. They are presenting a performance filmed in Super-8 in which they share some of the skills they have learned.

Nile Sunset Annex (f. 2013, Egypt) is an evolving production and dispersion outfit for contemporary art, that was founded as a small self-funded art space that puts on exhibitions of artists’ work in a flat in Cairo. Since then, it has acted as a publisher, an art collection, an archivist, an editor, a technician, an artist, an author, a barmaid, or a curator when necessary, as well taking a fairly long break.

Geo Wyeth
Visitation, w/NO STARS
Performance
35 mins

A poem about facts, recited by an archeologist 200 years in the future, having doubts about her profession. Part of Geo’s ongoing constellation of works involves a fake city agent called Muck Studies Dept.

Geo Wyeth (b. 1984, USA), based in Rotterdam, works in music, performance, narrative sculpture, sound and education. His most recent record ATM FM (2020) was released through Muck Studies Dept. – a constellational narrative framework, and an imaginary city agent surveying the bottom of low-lying water areas, “looking for stars out of what stinks,” as a tactic of repair stemming from black feminist radical traditions.

Deena Abdelwahed
Club’baret
Music
40 mins

Club’baret is a project of live club music performance (b. 1988, Egypt) and live dance by Nabil Ennassouh, and is a hybridization of cabarets located in Arab capitals as spaces of popular defiance of ethical and moral norms; and of clubs as contemporary spaces where parties happen and where the public encounters innovative and challenging music in the intimacy of the dance floor.

Club’baret is produced as part of Mophradat’s Consortium Commissions 2020/2022 program in partnership with Ancienne Belgique (Brussels).

Deena Abdelwahed (b. 1989, Tunisia) is a Tunisian music producer and DJ. She moved to France after making a name for herself in Tunisia as part of World Full of Bass, Boom Bass Tech, and the Arabstazy Collective. As a producer, she was the creator of All Hail Mother Internet at CTM Berlin Festival, and first EP Klabb (InFiné, 2017) was met with critical acclaim. In January 2020, she released a new EP, Dhakar.

 

Read the Room
Curating: Mophradat; Production Manager: Niamh Moroney; Production intern: Amar Ruiz

The festival is realized with the support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and in cooperation with Allianz Kulturstiftung.