The Common Guild presents 'May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth' by Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme

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The Common Guild presents 'May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth' by Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, ‘May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth: Only sounds that tremble through us’ (2020–2022). Installation view, The Common Guild, Glasgow, 2022. Photograph: Isobel Lutz-Smith.

GLASGOW.- The Common Guild announced the exhibition of ‘May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth’ (2020 – ongoing) by the New York and Ramallah-based artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme. An evolving, multi-part project featuring sound, digital film installation and live performance, and existing in both physical and digital form, ‘May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth’ is being shown for the first time in the UK in Glasgow.

The exhibition launched on Thursday 8 September, followed by a live evening performance on Friday 9 September devised by Abbas and Abou-Rahme. The immersive audiovisual performance will complement the multi-channel sound and video installation.

The project foregrounds Abbas and Abou-Rahme’s remarkable personal archive of found video clips and ephemeral recorded footage, collected by the artists since the early 2010s and the beginning of the Arab Revolutions. Posted online and on social media by ordinary people living in and around Palestine, Iraq and Syria, the video clips, often ad hoc and recorded on mobile devices, focus on song, dance, protest and performance – affirmative acts of vocalisation and physical gesture.

This collected material forms the foundation of Abbas and Abou-Rahme’s multi-layered installation. The digital traces of these performing bodies are brought together with new performances created by the artists with dancer Rima Baransi and musicians Haykal, Julmud, and Makimakkuk, working in Ramallah, Palestine. Footage is looped, manipulated and superimposed upon images that include solarised landscapes and destroyed dwellings. Projections are rhythmic and augmented with a fragmentary script in both Arabic and English, detailing experiences of violence, trauma, displacement and resistance. The audio shifts between the solo voice, singing dirge-like, and a reverberating audio, heavy with bass notes. As sound and moving image accumulates, a testimony of shared experience begins to emerge, and in turn a collective body of knowledge.

‘May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth’ bears witness to geopolitical upheavals, forced migration and fractured communities whilst simultaneously enacting modes of survival for those marginalised by colonial-capitalist conditions – reclaiming space for alternative political logics to persist. The project’s title, ‘May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth’ is borrowed from the English translation of Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño’s ‘Infrarealist Manifesto’ (1976), used here by Abbas and Abou-Rahme as a reminder to resist forgetfulness and the erasure of personal, political and community histories that disappear all too quickly from consciousness.

Abbas and Abou-Rahme will activate and redouble the installation with the live performance ‘an echo buried, buried, but calling still’ (2022). Drawing upon further sound, video, and text from the artist’s larger archive and combining this with live vocals, electronics, sound sampling and projections. This new work examines the significance of voice and embodiment through song as a testimony to the resilience of communities under threat.

The exhibition takes place in the former Adelphi Terrace Public School on the banks of the Clyde in Glasgow city centre. Originally opened in 1894, the building was used as a site of education for children and young adults until 2010. It is fully accessible. With thanks to our venue partner Urban Office.

This is the most substantial presentation of the work of Abbas and Abou-Rahme in the UK to date. Previous iterations of this project have been co-commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art and the DIA Art Foundation, New York City, and presented at Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich. It continues The Common Guild’s commitment to presenting the work of leading international artists in Scotland.

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