An exhibition, a theater screening, and public talks by NAEEM MOHAIEMEN
The exhibition Langer Tag combines two video essays and three photographic works by Mohaiemen around the unstable nature of transnational solidarity.
The video essay Afsan's Long Day (2014, 41 min.) reflects on the transnational circulation of ideologies by looking at the dissolution of far-left movements in the 1970s in different places around the world. Specifically, Mohaiemen contrasts the experiences of the young intellectual Afsan in the turbulent years following the 1971 Bangladesh War, which led to Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan, with the so-called German Autumn (featuring the Baader-Meinhof group). Looking at the minuscule membership of Rote Armee Fraktion, Heinrich Böll called it a “war of six against sixty million.” But what of historian Afsan Chowdhury, sitting alone in his Dhaka home, reading a lot of Marx? While others bemoaned that they had never understood dialectical materialism, Afsan had penetrated it intellectually, out-argued his professors, and grown a beard in the process. But the men who came one day cared little for all that– history has often testified that the state likes clean shaven men.
The second video in the exhibition, Century’s Container (USA, 2016, 9 min.), is a message from the present to the present of the artist Mohaiemen himself. The same year that we were horrified by the whitelash tornado embodied by Trump (after Brexit, before Le Pen), the Bangladesh government pushed Rohingya refugees back into Myanmar and toward escalating violence, under the eyes of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The Muslim is this century’s container for the Other; but the definition of the Other is also always changing, while the expulsion impulse remains a constant. Naeem Mohaiemen researches in Century’s Container the tragic past of actually existing socialism, and the unwritten futures of an as-yet unborn global left in opposition to sectarian unities of race and religion. The video includes excerpts of texts by Judith Butler, Toby Rollo, Mona Saeed Kamal, Hari Kunzru, and Sham-e-Ali Nayeem, and was produced for the public forum Sense of Emergency, organized in December 2016 in New York by Andrew Weiner in response to the election of Donald Trump.
Talks with Naeem Mohaiemen and Eszter Szakács:
The anthology Solidarity Must Be Defended (edited by Eszter Szakács and Naeem Mohaiemen, tranzit.hu 2023) brings together projects on gestures and alignments within the visual arts around transnational solidarity during the Cold War. The book looks at both grand initiatives and tragic misfires from an entangled, decolonizing world, in dialogue with Mohaiemen’s film Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017). Building on their experience of jointly editing the anthology, Szakács and Mohaiemen present two intertwined talks on their areas of research that braid into the ideas of the anthology. They look at case studies of misaligned solidarity gestures during the Cold War era and consider what each of these stories show us about the hope and risk of solidarity across borders, within the pressure of time and language. Szakács explores the vicissitudes of "Eastern Europe" and "Arab World" solidarity juncture points in Hungary, and Mohaiemen gleans the after-traces of French intellectual solidarity with Iran on the cusp of Islamic Revolution.
Date: 16. June 2023, 5 – 8pm.
5pm: Eszter Szakacs, "An Arab World in Hungary"
6pm: Naeem Mohaiemen, "Foucault in Tehran"
7-8pm: Discussion, followed by food
LANGER TAG is curated by Nina Möntmann
Naeem Mohaiemen, Two Meetings and a Funeral, 2017
Film Screening, with an introduction by NAEEM MOHAIEMEN
Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017): "The Third World was not a place, but a project.” (Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations, 2007). This was to be a utopian alliance where the Global South would reconfigure planetary leadership, ending Euro-American dominance. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) attempted to navigate a “third way,” but parallel participation in the Petrodollar-driven “Islamic bloc” by some member countries shredded fragile coalitions behind the scenes. Two Meetings and a Funeral explores a “pivot” moment between the 1973 Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting in Algeria and the 1974 Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting in Pakistan. The unraveling of old alliances began from a barely discernible venn diagram overlap between these two groups, one that would taken on world significance after the OPEC oil crisis, the Iranian revolution, and the invasion of Afghanistan. Traveling through the residues of transnational architecture (Niemeyer, Moretti, Le Corbusier) in New York, Algiers, and Dhaka, the film considers the erosion of the idea of the Third World as a potential space for decolonisation, and an always imperfect understanding of Socialism. Conversations between Vijay Prashad, Samia Zennadi, Atef Berredjem, Amirul Islam, and Zonayed Saki look at the contradictions of decolonization movements that never remembered to liberate their own leadership. The film is a midpoint for Mohaiemen’s loosely affiliated projects around the Non-Aligned Movement.
Venue: Kölnischer Kunstverein – Die Brücke, Hahnenstrasse 6, 50667 Köln
Date: Thu, June 15, 2023, 4 – 6 p.m.
Invited by Nina Möntmann
Funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: curatorial project of the DFG-Research Training Group „connecting – excluding. Cultural Dynamics Beyond Globalized Networks“ https://www.anschliessenausschliessen.de/pages/kuratorisches-englisch
Naeem Mohaiemen, Century’s Container, 2016
Naeem Mohaiemen, Two Meetings and a Funeral, 2017