Denormalizing Bodies. Rehearsing Citizenship - led by Resident Professor Sandra Noeth

past Sandra Noeth, Wounded Places, San Pio/Lecce, Italy
1 February - 2 March 2016

Event Type Seminar, Workshop

Location Ashkal Alwan CHECK THE MAP

Image Caption: Sandra Noeth, Wounded Places, San Pio/Lecce, Italy


Relating to the ongoing debate on the interconnections between art, society and the public, Denormalizing Bodies. Rehearsing Citizenship will focus on the body`s capacity for action whithin these dynamics. How do artistic and political modes for action relate? How do physical and movement-based strategies represent, implement, reflect, memorize, aesthetisize, address, legitimize, practise and activate action? How – through the entanglement of physical, performative, digital and urban space – do they re-map material as well as immaterial territories? And how is collectivity experienced and produced in the process?

The workshop seeks to introduce choreography as an emergent order, as a concept and practice that deals with the organization of movement in time and space, its consequences, and ultimately the violence of its inscriptions. By investigating singular concepts and practices of extended, absent, projected, re-appropriated, disciplined or mimetic bodies, it will try to understand how related strategies for action contribute to denormalizing what has become familiar and everyday, in order to force open a discussion which is also an ethical one.

Parallel to research on the performativity and physicality of the production of borders that Sandra Noeth has undertaken, the workshop will be informed by case studies and practice-based inputs by invited guests.

With guest speakers Lawrence Abu-Hamdan, Mounira Al-Solh, Tony Chakar, Dictaphone Group, Monika Halkort, Saba Innab and Janez Janša.

Public Conference with Ismail Fayed, Gian Maria Greco, Ayesha Hameed, Latifa Laâbissi, Youmna Makhlouf, Sandra Noeth and Jalal Toufic.

Denormalizing Bodies. Rehearsing Citizenship is Workshop II of HWP 2015-16: From The Miraculous to the Mundane.

The talks, lectures and conference are open to the public and free of charge.
The workshop with Janez Janša and the walk with Dictaphone Group have limited capacity and require registration.
Please register by sending an email to .



8 – 10pm | public

Introduction by Sandra Noeth

My Body Is In My Red Shoe – Talk with Mounira Al-Solh

I search for my body in a voice of swimming men that gather on the Corniche, in silent printed texts that appear in white on a black video background, and in a disguised Dutch Cat, a Dutch Dog, and a Dutch Camel. Is this freedom? Rousseau’s idea of being born free? Can we as “bodies” be born free?
My body is in the thousand bodies of displaced individuals I am meeting and befriending since a few years. My body is slow, it is very fast, I look down at it, it looks down at me as well. This talk fluidly roams between different notions of “the body”, political, social, personal, sexual, anthropological subject, moving image or still hand-written texts that I have studied, researched and that came up with in my works: videos, performance, drawing, and such.


8 – 10pm | public

Down with Sadness and Life on Pills: On the Joy of Bodies in Urban Space – Talk with Tony Chakar

Compared to previous demonstrations in the post-war era, the demonstrations of the Civil Movement in Beirut (August-September 2015) carried with them something different – a small something, almost undefinable, elusive, but there nonetheless. The slogans, the modes of action and the people who participated are the carriers of that something, but also, a certain way of occupying and reclaiming the urban space, examined through the perspective of the joyful body in the city.


2 – 6pm | by registration

Collaterality – Workshop with Janez Janša

The concept of “collateral” appears in financial economy, in law, in medicine and last but not least in military doctrines. The etymology of the word is already interesting from a social point of view: how can we be with someone “a side”? In liberal tradition there was always a question how to be together without being subsumed to society? Or, to put it in Jean-Luc Nancy terms, how to keep the “we” plural without turning it into a singular, totalizing “we”. The workshop will introduce the concept of collaterality in art exploring various aspects of the work developed by Janša, Janša and Janša, the 3 artists who legally changed their names in 2007.
Ever since their change of name, they have been followed by a question that remains unanswered: can a change of name be considered an artistic act? Janša, Janša and Janša develop a different model of the relationship between the artist and institution – a relationship that they call institutional complicity. The artists invite cultural institutions to be their accomplice, to join them in breaking through into broader social, political and economic contexts and collaborate with them on projects that cannot be realised within the field of art. The workshop will elaborate different kind of collateral situations in which artists and institutions found themselves. Participants will be invited to take place in one of the latest projects of Janša, Janša and Janša which deals with the question of trust.


8 – 10pm | public

Name Readymade – Talk with Janez Janša

Name Readymade is a project presentation dealing with a wide range of issues related to the “name changing” gesture perpetrated by three Slovenian artists who, in 2007, legally, and with all the papers and stamps required, changed their names and assumed the name of the Slovenian Prime Minister at the time, Janez Janša. Ever since, all their works, their private and public affairs – in a word, their whole life – have been conducted under this new name. It is a parcours through different stages and aspects of the act of name changing and its consequences, including public, relational and intimate ones.
Name Readymade lecture performance has been produced by Maska and Aksioma, Ljubljana, Slovenia. More at


8 – 10pm | public

Collectivity as speculative practice – Lecture with Monika Halkort

This presentation extends the question of action and agency in relation to the body with a view on the informational dimension of colonial struggle.
Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon I will discuss how data operates as critical currency in the political economy of refugee assistance opening up new trajectories for the subversive mimicry of regulatory maneuvres at the hands of humanitarian actors or the state.
My overall aim will be to disrupt the idea of agency as strategized movement of affect and desires and to acknowledge the performativity of data as speculative force of transformation in its own right. With this approach I am rethinking the body beyond its materiality as embodied substance to emphasize its infinitely scalability as informational form.

FEBRUARY 15 – 17

10am – 5pm | closed

Descending the City – Workshop by Dictaphone Group

Dictaphone Group will workshop ideas related to their performance Topography of Descent (Commissioned by Sursock Museum, as Part of Cities in the City Exhibition Program in 2015) discussing multiple narratives of the area extending from Sursock Palace to the Karantina neighborhood. The group will present their projects mixing urban research with live art, the collection of oral histories with audience interactivity. The participants are invited to participate in field research in the areas along the same route of the walk, building their own narrative and experimenting with the act of walking and crossing internal and self-imposed borders in the city.


3 – 4:30pm | by registration

Topography of Descent – Walk by Dictaphone Group

Weaving simultaneously between the past, present, and future, this walk led by Dictaphone Group is a descent through Beirut’s various historical, social, and economic layers. Walking from the Sursock Museum down to Karantina, passing through the alleyways and staircases of the Roum neighborhood, hidden narratives and forgotten stories begin to unfold. Following the footsteps of a female domestic worker who would everyday take the same road from the mansion where she worked to the camp in Karantina where she lived, we discover traces she left behind, internal borders and unsettling stories of neighborhoods, inhabitants, and passers by.
Ethnographic Research & Performer: Abir Saksouk
Concept & Writer: Tania El Khoury
Commissioned by Sursock Museum, as Part of Cities in the City Exhibition Program in 2015


8 – 10pm | public

Reflections on Dwelling – Talk with Saba Innab

In her work, Saba Innab revisits the relationship of construction and land to time and temporariness – a relation, which gradually transforms – or deforms – into durability. Referencing the Palestinian exile, immigration and refuge in particular, but also human alienation in general, she explores the suspended states between temporariness and permanence and is concerned with the variable notions of dwelling, building, and language in architecture. Saba tries to rethink building and dwelling in temporariness in a broader conceptual framework that gradually takes us from the dilemma of i.e. rebuilding a camp into a further aggravated dilemma which is building, living and even dying in a state of suspension.
What becomes of building and dwelling between the imagined and the real and between the temporary and the permanent? How do we build without a land?


2 – 6pm | closed

The Right to Lie – Seminar with Lawrence Abu-Hamdan

This seminar will investigate texts, performances, works of art and architecture that shed light on the concept and practice of Taqiya– piece of Islamic jurisprudence that allows a believing individual to deny his faith, lie or commit otherwise illegal acts while they are at risk of persecution or in a condition of statelessness. It is a form of communication and political practice forged at remote altitudes, at the fringes of failed states, in buffer zones and on ceasefire lines. This seminar on the elusive world of Taqiya and will be a discursive experiment in an attempt to trouble the conventions of political advocacy and free speech, searching for ways in which our right to silence can be preserved in today’s All-Hearing and All-Speaking society.


Wounded Places. On the Integrity of the Body
FEBRUARY 27 – 28

Image Caption: from A Rough History (of the Destruction of Fingerprints), Ayesha Hameed, 2015/16

With Ismail Fayed, Gian Maria Greco, Ayesha Hameed, Latifa Laâbissi, Youmna Makhlouf, Sandra Noeth and Jalal Toufic.

A wound in a physical sense is of a dual significance. It marks an intrusion into the body, a penetration of tissue, an attack on the integrity of the body: illness, violence, a traumatic experience. Neglect, not caring, indifference. At the same time, it tells of the body’s ability to heal, to restore and to reorient itself and its environment. Wounds entail a twofold trajectory: as signs and places of weakness, and as signs and places of empowerment. The occurrence of a wound, the vulnerability of the body, allow us to (re-) experience our individual and collective bodies, it bundles our attention, and connects us to the injured bodies and places in society.
Wounded Places brings together artists and thinkers from different backgrounds in a two days public encounter. From their respective artistic, philosophical, political and juridical practices, they approach and challenge the idea of the integrity of our physical as well as imaginary and social body. The invited lectures, case studies and presentations move beyond the universal and idealistic claim and promise of physical and mental protection, which might lose sight of the ‘real’ bodies, pushing them in the back, leaving them abstract, far away, untouched. Much more, they expose the right to the integrity of the body to its own ideology and ultimately failure – to its politics of in- and exclusion and normative settings – , and formulate an invitation to question how our individual and collective bodies can stay intact, not wounded, safe and sound, safe, unharmed, in light of what is happening today.


2 – 2:45pm

Introductory talk with Sandra Noeth

3 – 4pm

The inviolability of the body in the Lebanese legal framework: Between the “person” and the “the moral order” – Talk with Youmna Makhlouf

The status of the human body in the Lebanese legal framework depends on fragmentary and inconclusive provisions that posit the human body as not only the direct extension of the person but also as the bearer of public morality. Therefore, as the incarnation of the person, the body is in general deemed inviolable and its integrity protected. For instance, any harm caused to the body is incriminated as an offense to the individual integrity and no medical act may be performed on the human body without obtaining the individual’s prior consent. However, this approach dismisses the fact that the human body is also mobilized to dispel any act that is considered as contradicting public morality. As such, non-therapeutic abortion, dissemination of contraception means and “intercourse against nature”, as well as certain sexual acts considered as an outrage to decency, are hence criminalized. Furthermore, sexual acts involving others whose age or status renders them unwilling or unable to consent are reprehended according to the Criminal Code as “offences against morals and public morality” and not as “offenses to the individual’s integrity”
. In light of the above, the paper argues that this dual conception of the human body is paradoxical since the consideration of the human body as a direct extension of the person opposes its comprehension as a means to establish a single sexual behavior. Indeed, as a replication of the person, the human body should also reflect the plurality of behaviors based on the individual’s right to privacy and self-determination.

4 – 5pm

Accessibility, Human Rights, and the Ghetto Effect – Talk with Gian Maria Greco

Over the past few decades, following many years of scanty attention – particularly if compared to the issues of gender and ethnicity – disability has come to gain a central position within the human rights agenda. Consequently, the rights of persons with disabilities have become a major issue within the human rights debate and research. Within the disability rights debate, a key role has been given to the notion of accessibility as a specific human right for persons with disabilities. In the talk, I will first make the case that this gives rise to a structural problem within the human rights framework, what I deem the “Accessibility as a Human Right Divide” problem. Through an analysis of the AHRD problem, I will then argue that the tension between the so-called universal scope of human rights on the one hand, and the definition of group-related human rights on the other, may give way to a Ghetto Effect: a renewed form of dehumanization of persons with disabilities. Finally, I will discuss how this might be a case of a more general, subtle tendency of perpetration of discrimination, and how it should be avoided in order to regain a sense of citizenship.

5:30 – 6:30pm

A Rough History (of the Destruction of Fingerprints) – Talk with Ayesha Hameed

‘To live means to leave traces’
(W Benjamin)

We were huddled in front of the thin light of a fire in an abandoned house on a cold January night in Calais. X was making another cup of very sugary tea. Y, stirring the kindling, yelled as he accidentally grabbed a burning twig. “are you trying to clean your fingerprints?” laughed X.
A Rough History is a performance lecture that considers a practice by migrants entering the EU of destroying their fingerprints to avoid detection by in the Eurodac system, alongside other histories of fingerprinting and fingerprint erasures. It looks at the coalescence of skin and data in the collection and destruction of fingerprints, at the life and circulation of the image of the fingerprint, and the different lives of the bodies that produce such images. This is a speculative history that travels from border checks, to other forms of fingerprint erasure, to early gestures in film.

6:30 – 7pm

Conversation with Youmna Makhlouf, Gian Maria Greco, Ayeesha Hameed


2 – 3pm

Re-imagining Bodies: Resistance, Representation and the re-emergence of the Futuwwa – Talk with Ismail Fayed

The last decade of Mubarak’s rule witnessed massive securitization of the state and the hypertrophy of the security apparatus. This unprecedented securitization was accompanied by using police brutality against any form of opposition or dissent especially towards the marginalized and segments of society that have no recourse to social and economic capital. The revolution not only forced the question of the political use of state security as a tool of oppression but also called into question the problematic relationship between the state and those who are economically and socially deprived. The possibility of resistance or of imagining a body that is ‘inviolable’ slowly made its way into people’s imaginaire. In this talk I will discuss the rise of the character of the underdog, the common man who resists the state constant incursions and claims to his body in cinema and TV and how its mass appeal can be seen as a way to re-imagine bodies that resist against the brutal force of the state.

3 – 4pm

Exposed Gestures, Ruined Gestures – Talk with Latifa Laâbissi

My choreographic work is not limited to a re-reading of the past and its implications for today. Moreover, it is a certain relation to the present and the question of subjugation that I am trying to trace. I therefore turn to the figure of the minoritarian, who´s existence and difference allows us to question concerns that we all share: a mental relationship to trauma and power. On the occasion of this invitation, I propose to discuss the way in which I use embodiment as well as brittle and composed figurations in order not to “deal with” political questions, but to digest and work on its effects and tensions within performance and dance. As a kind of guard, who observes the social and cultural tensions that criss-cross the social and choreographic field, in order to detect and get hold of their critical potential. This kind of dance invents a kinaesthetic documentary of history and of the trans-national poetics of a body in France today; a kind of choreographic and tragic-comical fiction, which transcends the genre of auto-fiction and of auto-portrait.

4 – 4:30pm

Conversation with Ismail Fayed and Latifa Laabissi

5 – 6:30pm

The Aura: An Approach – Talk with Jalal Toufic

The lecture addresses various instantiations of the aura, the “phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be” (Walter Benjamin): dancers, the undead, black holes and their event horizons from the reference frame of an outside observer; Jesus Christ; and the God of the Qur’ân.

Sandra Noeth
Mounira Al Solh
Tony Chakar
Janez Janša
Monika Halkort
Dictaphone Group
Saba Innab
Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Youmna Makhlouf
Gian Maria Greco
Ayesha Hameed
Ismail Fayed
Latifa Laâbissi
Jalal Toufic

Ashkal Alwan | Home Workspace
Jisr el Wati, Street 90, Building 110, 1st Floor
Directions: Near Souk Al Ahad, next to Beirut Art Center, pink building facing IMPEX Garage
Phone: +961 1 423 879

Archive: HWP 2015-16 - Events view all calendar

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