Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme live and work in New York City, US, and Ramallah, PS
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme work primarily with sound, seeking to penetrate and complement the human experience through audial qualities. Their complex body of work deploys images, texts, installations, and performance to create spaces containing multiple temporalities and forms of presence.
The artists’ practice emerges from lived experience in the occupied Palestinian territories and speaks to an ongoing reality of grief, disinheritance, denial, and erasure. Their site-specific installations employ a repetitive structure that produces an eternal recurrence of devastated villages and occupied sites, where freedom is restricted and continuity and contiguity are denied. By repositioning scripting and coding techniques, the artists convey the nuanced layers between corporeality and virtuality. These layers adhere to a presence that shifts between existence and disappearance; in this reality, traces of presence are constantly questioned, canceled, and annulled.
Where basic existence itself is a pretense for erasure, this very erasure functions as proof of existence. A vicious and destructive cycle, the feedback loop is the cancellation of identity, heritage, livelihood, patrimony, memory, culture, freedom of movement, and well-being. The artists translate a state-led attempt to construct ahistorical beings into a living corpus that calls for a reassessment of the dichotomy between presence and absence. On view at the 12th Berlin Biennale, Oh Shining Star Testify (2019/22) shows CCTV footage recorded by an Israeli military surveillance camera. On March 19, 2014, 14-year-old Yusef Al-Shawamreh crossed the Israeli separation wall to pick akkoub, an edible plant important in Palestinian cuisine. Akkoub foraging is illegal in Israel—a law clearly aimed at Palestinians, given the plant’s cultural significance. After crossing the Israeli West Bank barrier, Al-Shawamreh was shot dead by Israeli forces.
Oh Shining Star Testify weaves together recorded samples of everyday erasures alongside performative acts of potential return and resurgence.
May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth, 2022, MoMA – Museum of Modern Art, New York City (US) (solo)
If only this mountain between us could be ground to dust, 2020, Centraal Museum Utrecht, Utrecht (NL) and Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (US) (solo)
Oh Shining Star Testify, 2019, Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala City (GT)
We know what it is for, we who have used it, 2018, A Tale of A Tub, Rotterdam (NL) (solo)
And Yet My Mask is Powerful, 2018, Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign (US) and Kunstverein in Hamburg, Hamburg (DE) (solo)
The Incidental Insurgents, Part I and II, 2015, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (US) and Office for Contemporary Art Norway, Oslo (NO)
The Incidental Insurgents, Part II: Unforgiving Years, 2014, Akademie der Künste der Welt, Cologne (DE)