EUME Workshop
Sa 09 Jun 2018 – So 10 Jun 2018

Imagining the Future: The Arab World in the Aftermath of Revolution

Curated by Khaled Saghieh (Beirut / EUME Fellow 2016/17), organized by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) in the framework of its Arab European Creative Platform (AECP), in cooperation with the Archive Kabinett and EUME

Archive Kabinett, Müllerstraße 133, 13349 Berlin

The surge of counter-revolutions, the stepping up of mechanisms of internal repression, compounded by the active intervention of international powers in the aftermath of insurgencies in the Arab world have caused tremendous material and immaterial damage. Such setbacks do not only impact the present moment, but they also inhibit imaginings and representations of the future, particularly for artists, writers and activists. It is difficult to uphold the same imaginings of the future that had prevailed prior to the Arab revolutions and that regarded dictatorships as merely a phase destined to lapse as time moved forward. Although these aspirations materialized in many cases, they have not revealed new horizons. Indeed, the aftermath of revolutions seems to pull down the curtain on a political era that once conceived of a bright future.

After the revolutions were defeated, motifs of dystopia in literature and art have begun to emerge. Whereas science fiction, comics, and creative writings continue to enable imagining the unimaginable and unveiling horizons for better morrows for some, it invited others to delve into deeper level of despair. Has dystopia become a fount for intellectual and artistic production? Are we to relinquish the very idea of a future carrying promises for betterment and bliss? Or, on the contrary, should we hang on to the notion of utopia as the harbinger of a future for all? Does the moment of the Arab uprising still allow us to conceive of such utopic futures? If this is indeed possible, how do contemporary imaginings compare with those that the generations of the 1960s carried, or even those of the modernist pioneers of the turn of the last century?
This Forum will explore these questions by looking at the new literary and artistic forms in the Arab world, in which "the future'' is represented or incarnated.

The Forum is curated by Khaled Saghieh (Beirut / EUME Fellow 2016/17) and organized by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) in the framework of its Arab European Creative Platform (AECP) in cooperation with the Archive Kabinett and EUME.



JUNE 9, 2018

14:00: Welcome and Introduction
Rima Mismar (Arab Fund for Arts and Culture)
Khaled Saghieh (Curator of the Forum)

Our Present, or How their Future Was Imagined
14:15: Panel Discussion
Zeina G. Halabi (AUB / EUME Fellow 2018): The Nahda Historians of Tomorrow
Sonja Mejcher-Atassi (AUB / Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2017/18): Imaginary Futures of (Auto)biographical Writing: Telling Life in Jerusalem and Baghdad
Orwa Nyrabia (Filmmaker): Amiralay, the Future is in the Detail
Chair: Georges Khalil (Forum Transregionale Studien / EUME)

15:45: Coffee Break

Our Future, Present
16:00: Panel Discussion: Can Literature Foresee the Future?
Nael El-Toukhy (Writer): The Future Need Not Be Smart, It too Can Be Foolish
Haytham Al-Wardany (Writer): Notes on the Necessity to Overcome the Future
Mohammad Rabie (Writer): Excerpts from his Novel "Minisecures"
Chair: Elena Chiti (U of Oslo)

17:30: Coffee Break

17:45: Screening and Discussion
Film Screening of three short films by Maha Maamoun (Artist, Filmmaker): 2026 (2010, 9 minutes, Black and White), Night Visitor: The Night of Counting the Years (2011, 8 minutes, Color), and Dear Animal (2016, 24 minutes, Color)
A discussion with Wael Abdelfattah (Journalist) will follow the screenings.

19:00: Screening and Discussion
Film Screening of Mahdi Fleifel's (Artist, Filmmaker) short film I Signed the Petition (2018, 10 minutes, Color). A discussion with Rasha Salti (Curator, Writer) will follow the screening.

JUNE 10, 2018

A Farewell to Utopia?
14:00: Panel Discussion
Leyla Dakhli (Centre Marc Bloch): Imagined Futures of the Past: On How Utopias Circulate
Judith Naeff (Leiden U): Beirut's Suspended Now
Samer Frangie (AUB / EUME Fellow 2016/17): Revolutions After the Future, or the Impasse of the Present
Chair: Jens Hanssen (U of Toronto / EUME Fellow 2017/18)

15:30: Coffee Break

On Science Fiction
15:45: Presentations, Screening and Discussion
Refqa Abu Remaileh (FU Berlin / EUME Fellow 2017/18): Folklore Futurism in Emile Habibi’s Pessoptimist
Wael Abdelfattah (Journalist): Our Secret Formula: Horror as the Gateway to the Future
Film Screening of Larissa Sansour's (Artist, Filmmaker) Sci-fi trilogy: A Space Exodus (2009, 6 minutes, Color), Nation Estate (2012, 10 minutes, Color), and In the Future, They Ate From the Finest Porcelain (2015, 29 minutes, Color).
A discussion with Rasha Abbas (Writer) will follow the presentations and the screenings.

18:15: Coffee Break

Animation, Comics and Representations of the Future
18:30: Presentation, Screening and Discussion
Rasha Chatta (EUME Fellow 2017/18): An Archive for the Future? Syrian Comics and the Visually Real
Film Screening of Ayman Al Zorkany's (Artist, Filmmaker) short film The Last Dance of Anus's Blue Fly (2018, 4 minutes, Color) and Fadi Baqi's (Artist, Filmmaker) short film Last Days of the Man of Tomorrow (2017, 29 minutes, Color) 
A discussion with Rima Mismar (Arab Fund for Arts and Culture) will follow the presentation and the screenings.

The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) was established in 2007 by cultural lobbyists as an independent initiative that funds individuals and organizations in the fields of cinema, performing arts, literature, music and visual arts while facilitating cultural exchange, research and cooperation across the Arab world and globally. Since its inception it has become internationally and regionally recognized, working with a range of reputable institutional partners, and has issued around 900 grants to date with about 150 new grants per year. AFAC is registered in Switzerland with headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon.

The Arab European Creative Platform (AECP) is a pilot multi-disciplinary program of events, showcases, conferences and workshops, that aims to address alarming realities in Europe, namely the growing ranks of displaced creative talents, and the rise of xenophobic and reactionary movements. Launched in 2016, the three-year program aspires to explore innovative and constructive actions, commissions and productions, because we are confident that establishing a platform that probes and explores imagination and expression, engages the creative and artistic communities from both Europe and the Arab world, holds keys to allaying fearful minds and hearts and shifting perceptions.
The idea is to not only to challenge terms of discourse and perceptions by providing a platform to Arab intellectuals and artists in Europe, but also to enable genuine contact and creative collaborations between Arab and European artists. Moreover, building on the success of AFAC’s public showcases, and responding to the difficulties Arab artists face with the circulation, visibility and dissemination of their work, the AECP is grounded in structured partnership with European institutions and funders to co-produce and co-present each event in the proposed program. Since 2016, we have collaborated with the Allianz Foundation, Alfilm, Archive Kabinett, the Berlinale, DokLeipzig, Documenta 14, DoxBox, Freiluftkino, Eiszeit Kino, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Humboldt Forum, Volksbühne theater and the Weissensee Kunst-Hochschule (Berlin).

Archive Kabinett is a platform for cultural research and debate. It brings together activists and cultural practitioners in an adaptable structure with the aim to foster a unique space for discussion and exchange. Archive is engaged in a wide range of activities including publishing and exhibition making. Archive Books produces readers, monographs and artists’ books as well as journals focusing on contemporary cultural production and reception. Located in Berlin, Archive Kabinett is both a library/bookshop showcasing a selected range of printed matters, and simultaneously a space for lectures, screenings and exhibitions. Archive Journal is a cross-disciplinary journal primarily concerned with the notion of documentation but also with contemporary uses of translation and circulation. Archive Appendix is the design department that brings a conceptual approach to the relation between text and image.

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