Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme: “an echo buried, buried, but calling still”

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s multipart project “May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth” (2020–ongoing) examines how communities bear witness to experiences of violence, loss, displacement, and forced migration. Since the early 2010s, Abbas and Abou-Rahme have collected online recordings of everyday people singing and dancing in communal spaces in Iraq, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen. The work brings digital traces of these performing bodies together with new performances created by the artists with dancer Rima Baransi and electronic musicians Haykal, Julmud, and Makimakkuk, working in Ramallah, Palestine. According to Abbas and Abou-Rahme, through song and dance, “these fractured communities are resisting their own erasure and laying claim to space, self, and collectivity once more.”

This evolving work, co-commissioned by MoMA and Dia Art Foundation, will be presented as an online platform and physical exhibition. The first part, titled “Postscript: after everything is extracted,” launched in December 2020, as part of Dia’s Artist Web Projects Series. In March 2022, Dia’s online platform was updated with the artists’ extensive collection of found online recordings and the original performances. The exhibition in MoMA’s Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio will bring the footage into the gallery through an immersive, multichannel sound and moving-image installation titled “Only sounds that tremble through us.”

“May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth” considers performance—whether in the form of song, spoken word, dance, or gesture—as a political act at a time marked by myriad forms of violence against entire communities.

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The comments and opinions expressed in this video are those of the speakers alone, and do not represent the views of The Museum of Modern Art, its personnel, or any artist.

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