This project, a two-part exhibition and public program, takes Jean Genet’s final book, the poetic and self-reflexive Prisoner of Love (1986), as its point of departure. Love for landless revolutions inspired Genet to narrate another kind of story about his time with the Palestinian fedayeen and the Black Panthers during the 1970s.
Reconsidering the vocabularies and incomplete histories of 20th-century political subjectivity, Stars Are Closer and Clouds Are Nutritious Under Golden Trees inhabits different times and spaces, thinking in the languages of the region, including Arabic, English, French, Kurdish and Turkish. The program connects figures of the political left from Turkey who fought in Palestine in the 1970s with Palestinian feminist movements of the British Mandate period. It follows the story of the Portapak camera that recorded Jean Genet in Jordan and then travelled to North America and Africa, feeding into the eroticism of revolutionary desire and power while highlighting the contemporary dilemma of the Kurdish autonomous women’s movement in northern Syria. In other fragments of history, the Soviet film archive recently found in Amman walks alongside an accelerated dream that was triggered by the once-iconic political spectacle of the plane hijackings. The fighters of Monique Wittig’s Les Guérillères (1969) merge with the Black Panther who found inspiration in the poetry of Palestinian Samih al-Qasim.
These narrative fragments form a political and poetical imaginary that will gradually take over the MMAG Foundation over six months. The two parts of the exhibition, opening on June 13 and September 19 respectively, will be bridged by a public program that includes lectures, conversations, screenings and workshops. The project is a collective effort by artists, activists, archivists and academics to explore the different ways we can counter hegemonic discourses and histories of the context.
Because the world needs other kinds of stories.
Stars Are Closer and Clouds Are Nutritious Under Golden Trees has been made possible by the generous participation of Salwa Aleryani, Marwa Arsanios, Yusef Audeh, Babi Badalov, Zach Blas, Banu Cennetoğlu, Moyra Davey, Johan Grimonperez, Bouchra Khalili, Doreen Mende, Abdul Hay Mosallam, Mai-Thu Perret, Carole Roussopoulos, Ines Schaber, Firas Shahadeh, Reem Shilleh, Oraib Toukan, Greg Thomas, Agnès Varda and Hong-Kai Wang, among others.
The exhibition is curated by Övül Ö. Durmusoglu and the public program is co-curated by Nadine Fattaleh.
Övül Ö. Durmusoglu is a curator and writer living in Berlin, with a continuous interest in the East Mediterranean’s cultural and political context and its wider connections with the South. As part of MMAG’s newly established annual residency program for curators, Durmusoglu has been invited as the foundation’s first resident curator. Her work will help shape the foundation’s long-term vision and programming.
Nadine Fattaleh is an Amman-based researcher whose work focuses on spatial practices through cartography and film. Currently, Fattaleh works as the programs and media coordinator at Studio X-Amman.
The MMAG Foundation
The Mohammad and Mahera Abu Ghazaleh Foundation brings together artists, curators and researchers from the region and elsewhere, hosting exhibitions, workshops, studios and residencies, as well as the Lesser Amman Library.
The foundation is developing several learning initiatives in preparation for its art school. Currently, it’s running Acts of Simulation, a learning-based residency program curated and mediated by Shuruq Harb, as well as Qayyem, a curatorial learning program in collaboration with MASS Alexandria and Atelier Kissaria.
In the framework of its artist residency program, the foundation is also presently hosting artist Parastoo Anoushahpour, who is producing her film project, My Mother is a Fish, and writer Omar Battikhi, who is working on a literary project that draws inspiration from Arab literature in the late 19th to the early 20th centuries.
MMAG Foundation, 30 Othman Bin Affan Street, Amman 11118 | Jordan