Outstanding Museum Practices. Darat al Funun - The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman, Jordan
In light of the perilous conditions engendered by the pandemic in 2020, Darat al Funun developed an online program that engages critically with the social, political and economic specificities of the global crisis. We launched the Internet of Things: Another World is Possible (IOTAWIP) exhibition project that facilitates a collective inquiry from (and through) the quarantine; navigating online and offline, traversing temporalities. Conceived with the world on lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 and most human interaction relegated to cyberspace, the project inquires into our heightened vulnerability to the reign of communicative capitalism and high technology. It is an invitation for reflecting on the Situ, from our active positions behind the screens, deconstructing the crisis, contingency, social structures, cyberspace, memes, anxiety, technology, geography and body-politics. Live stream to news feed; or from the medium and its discontents to the state of emergency. The online program has been ongoing in 2021 with additional projects introduced below.
• The Internet of Things: Another World is Possible (IOTAWIP)
1 April – 30 September 2020
Unfolding through an online residency and live-streaming activities, IOTAWIP invokes online and offline spaces for research, collective learning, and the production of situated knowledge. Simultaneously, it attempts to provide an alternative infrastructure of support for cultural practitioners against the state of fragility and precarity exacerbated by the pandemic. Artists, filmmakers, writers, and researchers from various backgrounds were invited to think about recovery and repair in the context of hierarchical networks; the work of repair that allows for a sense of futurity and/or helps us think other worlds, multiple, without boundary.
Many of the collaborative sessions were facilitated by the artists in residence, drawing from the research and work they pursued through their studio spaces on the website. Guest speakers and lecture performers were similarly invited to speak through and nearby the crisis and pandemic situation. The online residency and live-streaming activities were accompanied by exercises in online publishing as an artistic/curatorial practice.
Resident Artists: Ahmed Isam Aldin, Areej Huniti, Tamara Nassar, Bayan Kiwan, Juliana Fadil-Luchkiw, Omar Adel, Sulaïman Majali.
Speakers: Jana Nakhal, Amani Aburahma, Kareem Estefan, Eren İleri.
Publications: Temporal Slips, Extended Thresholds. Immune Systems & Antibodies.
- Measuring Life: Notes Toward an Impossible Exchange
14 October 2020 – 15 February 2021
Conceived in the aftermath of the pandemic, Measuring Life: Notes Toward an Impossible Exchange features a series of invocations (performances, screenings, interventions, etc.) that interrogate systems of value embedded in hegemonic representations of life and the economy. We look at the 'anthropomorphisation' of the economy in public discourse-the construction of the economy as organic matter- versus the constitution of life itself as a computable object, its reduction to a financial problem, or a la Mbembe, the ways in which life and matter are incorporated into “systems of abstraction and "machine reasoning".” Addressing the question of what value stands for, the project unravels the violent workings of dominant systems of representation, seeking to imagine new modes of measuring that bring into being a different aesthetics and a radical praxis affirming the powers of life.
Online talks and performances by: Bassem Saad, Sami Khatib, Nadim Choufi, Ali Hussein Al-Adawy, Bahar Noorizadeh, and Hussein El-Hajj.
• After Hours
15 December 2020 – 15 January 2021
As an eight-week research residency, After Hours looked into contextual entanglements and modes of navigating institutional obligations in art, writing and publishing, among other fields. The conversation started from a place of thinking what art and cultural institutions can signify as a possibility or limitation. Naturally, the premise called for defining certain aspects of this conversation, both contextually (conditional/circumstantial scope of experience with institutions) and personally (aspirations for change and preferred work agreements).
We took our time to think and ask questions: What is the institution doing? What do we mean when we say “changing how things are done”? A paradoxical relationship to contexts of production can be a place for navigating new relationships within them and towards them.
In a situation where finding time to figure out a challenge corresponds to the ability to find a space for its resolution, we worked towards a common ground that acknowledges the layers of work critical thinking invites; a temporary egalitarian space, where a figurative horizontal relationship exists between the participants of this conversation, their subjects of work, and their respective contexts of production. Rethinking definitions of “change” were talking points, and equally, active negotiations.
In this event, we will return to look at the participants’ contributions within a frame of a temporarily-merged thought process that ended up being the work itself.
The online exhibition After Hours, featured a conversation with Batool el Hennawy and participants Ali Hussein Al-Adawy, Noor Abuarafeh, Ahmed Mongey, Rama Sabanekh, Asha Athman, and Sanabel Abdelrahman.
• Postcolonial Ecologies
9 March – Ongoing
Unfolding through multiple exhibitions, an online residency, public program and Summer Academy, the exhibition project discusses and reflects on essential ecological questions, addressing how colonial practices and extractive economies have affected/contaminated the natural environments of indigenous peoples and native ecosystems. Departing from the epistemic violence enacted through dominant technologies of measurement and calculation that subdue life forms to market logic, Postcolonial Ecologies unearths indigenous knowledge systems rooted in conceptions of nature and land as sources of life and subsistence. Thinking with Fanon, participants are invited to engage in critical readings of decolonization and to speculate on life futures that acknowledge land as ‘the most essential value’, its humus at once a carrier of collective memory/trauma and a site of anti-colonial resurgence and regeneration. Against a modern grammar of predation and extraction, the multifaceted program invokes other worlds in the making, exploring radical forms of social organisation that centre mutual aid and more-than-human collaboration.
Featuring works from the Khalid Shoman Collection and works from outside the collection, including commissions by local artists responding to the conceptual framework of the project. The main exhibition scheduled to open in September onsite in the Main Building, Darat al Funun, has been postponed until further notice due to the restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Health.
The Lab Residency
As part of the online activities under Postcolonial Ecologies, a web residency took place between 1 March- 1 May 2021. Engaging with concepts of futurity, world sharing and more-than-human commons, the final projects will be exhibited on our online space, DF Online.
Resident artists include Mays AlBeik, Nadine Fattaleh and Ali Eyal.
The Darat al Funun 2021 Summer Academy
July – October 2021
The academy offers participants the space to develop their art practice within a critical setting that encourages experimentation, knowledge-sharing, and communal learning. Taking place as part of the Postcolonial Ecologies exhibition project, this year’s program will be curated around a set of fundamental questions concerning ecological crisis, systems of value, and life futures, in light of which the participants will explore new conceptual and aesthetic strategies that entangle both artistic and ecological practices.
The curriculum will include workshops, screenings, discussions, studio visits, and excursions. The program is in three parts: The View from “No-Man’s Land”, Witnessing and Worldbuilding in the Wake, and Rewilding Pedagogy.
Invited faculty members will include Sahar Qawasmi and Nida Sinnokrot (Sakiya Collective), Jumana Emil Abboud, Kareem Estefan, Firas Shehadeh, Islam Khatib (WikiGender Collective), Reef Fakhouri, Dina Bataineh, and Nujud Ashour (Taghmees Collective).
The online projects were curated by the Darat al Funun Curatorial Team: Firas Shehadeh, Joud Al-Tamimi, Reem Marji.
Links to the institution website as relevant support material:
- Darat al Funun website: http://daratalfunun.org/
- Internet of Things website: https://internetofthingsanotherworldispossible.com/
- Internet of Things Press Kit: http://daratalfunun.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Press-kit-IOT.pdf
- Temporal Slips, Extended Thresholds: https://internetofthingsanotherworldispossible.com/Temporal-Slips-Eng
- Immune Systems & Antibodies: https://internetofthingsanotherworldispossible.com/Immune- Systems-Antibodies-eng
- Darat Online: https://online.daratalfunun.org/
- Summer Academy 2021: https://daratalfunun.org/?event=summer-academy-2021
- VR Tour: http://daratalfunun.org/?event=virtualtour