Shifter: Waiting | Rebecca Comay, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme
A businessperson waits for a delayed subway. A wrongly convicted prisoner awaits justice. A refugee waits for their asylum case. A nation waits for the promised boon of economic development. The world waits for a vaccine. Nature waits for its exploitation to end.
Waiting is usually what we do between things. It is the space between two destinations, an empty and anxious time to fill with distractions. But when we look more closely, we see that waiting is also an activity in itself, bristling with energy, uncertainty, and inequality. What does the condition of waiting reveal about us, our world, and the natural environment that sustains it?
This series of eight sessions offer glimpses into the thought and practices of artists, architects, historians, and theorists who grapple with this question.
In this hour-long session, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme will speak about how they use strategies to counter the perpetual disaster of the present. Rebecca Comay will speak about her research into trauma, memory and the temporality of human life. A brief moderated discussion and audience Q&A will follow.
These events, and the resulting publication, Shifter 25: Waiting, are co-hosted by MIT List Visual Arts Center and Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati in conjunction with solo exhibitions by Sreshta Rit Premnath to be held in September 2021 (CAC) and October 2021 (MIT List Center).
About the Speakers
Rebecca Comay is professor of philosophy and comparative literature, a core member of the Literature and Critical Theory Program (Victoria College), and an associate member of the Germanic Languages and Literatures Department and the Centre for Jewish Studies. Her research interests include Hegel and 19th century German philosophy; theatricality; Marx and Marxism (including Frankfurt school); psychoanalysis; contemporary French philosophy; trauma and memory; iconoclasm and destruction of art; contemporary art and art criticism; Proust and Beckett. She is currently working on a book on the temporality of deadlines, as well as a project on dramaturgy and dialectic.
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme work together across a range of sound, image, text, installation and performance practices. Their practice is engaged in the intersections between performativity, political imaginaries, the body and virtuality. Across their works they probe a contemporary landscape marked by seemingly perpetual crisis and an endless ‘present’, one that is shaped by a politics of desire and disaster. They have been developing a body of work that questions this suspension of the present and searches for ways in which an altogether different imaginary and language can emerge that is not bound within colonial/capitalist narrative and discourse.
Shifter explores the intersection of contemporary art, theory, and experimental writing. They convene public dialogues and produce publications. Shifter is programmed by Sreshta Rit Premnath and Avi Alpert.