Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, ‘And Yet My Mask Is Powerful’, 2016, Carroll / Fletcher

Artists’ Statement

Taking Adrienne Rich’s poem “Diving into the wreck” as the beginning of a script, and interweaving other sampled texts, we strive to confront the apocalyptic imaginary and violence that has taken over the Arab world but equally finds its resonance across the world. An apocalyptic vision that seems to clog up even the pores in our bodies. What really happens to people/place/things/materials when a living fabric is destroyed? The project takes a different view of time, one that is not just preoccupied with “our” time, but thinks of various forms of returns, flash-forwards, déjà vu. Freeing us to think beyond ourselves in the here and now, and opening the possibility to think of parallel times. A sort of counter-mythology for a future memory.

A series of trips to the sites of destroyed Palestinian villages in Israel have informed this body of work. The physical act of us going to and searching for these potent and almost possessed sites is an integral part of And Yet My Mask is Powerful. However, it is not a project about these specific sites, but about “returns” to the sites of destruction as an act that allows you to cast a different projection, an act that momentarily, viscerally, opens up a time that is not “our time”, or a past time, but “another,” unrealised time.

The video and sound piece attempts to capture the visceral experience of these “returns”. Meanwhile, objects and “things” are cast into the work, either by themselves or projected into images and contexts. Three objects echo elements in Rich’s poem: the camera, the knife and the book of myths. Tools that are used to destroy places – particularly those requiring the force of the body – also have a key role in this project. Caught in a play of scale magnified by the film projections, these objects create a disjuncture between the thing itself and its shadow, what is and what could be.

About Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme