With words stepping backwards from the wave of news coverage, attempting to retrace a moment or point in time, to go back were things began, the innocuous genesis of a single deliberate decision, the resentment or, in some camps, the war crime, within the continuous ebb and flow. The stepping back breaks up the habit of our clear factual articulation – a clear factual articulation that, in its fact, becomes ignorable as it satisfies the need for fact and its pincer click of tiny precision. This articulation is now carrying other words, carried forward from the reversal of the day’s date stamped so firmly and authoritatively on the facts, as if justification itself. Stepping backwards and moving forwards with the words of female Syrian poets, whose poems are oddly and noticeably not dated in the books recovered in translation from the British Library, despite the original words being imminently intelligible within the contemporary language of the particular place from where they were written – whether that be Syria, France, the Lebanon or wherever. The necessary compression of meaning within each sentence of this poetry is in turn counterpointed against the fact of legal journalistic accuracy and its subsequent dispersal, its general thinning out, particularly in the face of reported death.

Poets cited

Mona Fayad
Hala Mohamed Maram Masri Saniyya Saleh Aisha Arnaout Ghada Al-Samman Salva Al-Neim

The work manifests itself as a dispositif: as an audio-visual presence, a device for narration rather than as an installation. In this context, this dispositif produces a storyteller circle, an al halqa, that will play on its own on two stereo configured loud speakers, each voice addressing and underscoring the other, but which on regular occasions will be expanded and animated through a performance/narration: local artists/performers will be given a script/score to work within the circle of the dispositif: to recite the poems chosen by the artists, and to add others which they might bring or write themselves on the spot or before hand. In this way the factuality of the newspaper articles is further dispersed through the orality of poetry performed, spoken out loud, in French, English and Arabic.

Part of Narrating Transformed, partner project of the 6th Marakkech Biennale. 24 February–8 May. Performance each Thursday between 5-8pm


Factual Dispersion, Poetic Compression: LANGUAGES OF EXILE