Bassem Saad and Edwin Nasr
Wound Contra Empire
Date: Friday 14 February 2020
Venue: AA Lecture Hall
Commissioned as part of ‘In Pursuit of Images’
Wound Contra Empire is a lecture-performance that examines the geopolitics of digital image-making by way of the US military-entertainment complex, the cosmotechnics and visualities of the so-called axis of resistance, and the reproducibility of ritual and trauma. This intervention takes from an earlier iteration of Saad and Nasr's ongoing research project, This Ritual I Wish You Could See, which focused on Hezbollah’s—and more broadly, political Shiism’s—uses of virtual reality and video games as ostensibly counter-hegemonic to the domination of the American and Israeli war machines and video game production. Namely, these consist of VR Karbala, a virtual-reality recreation of the formative Battle of Karbala, commemorated yearly on the tenth day of Ashura, and Sacred Defence – Protecting the Homeland And Holy Sites, a 2018 Hezbollah-issued first-person shooter about the Party’s role in the Syria War. The project also surveys the US Army’s investment in commercial video games, through its America’s Army franchise, its Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) equivalent, and a virtual reality based exposure therapy tool aimed at treating post-traumatic stress disorder among Iraq war veterans, VR Iraq.
The work will be performed during In 20/20 Symposium
Edwin Nasr (b. 1994) is a writer and former journalist based in Beirut, Lebanon. His essays feature in n+1, Afterall (forthcoming), Jadaliyya, ArteEast, and Makhzin, as well as in exhibition catalogs for the Sharjah Art Foundation and the Biennale de l'Image en Mouvement. He has given talks at Harvard University VES, the American University of Beirut, and Asia Contemporary Art Week: Field Meeting. He is currently the Assistant to the Director at Ashkal Alwan, a non-profit organization with a focus on contemporary artistic production, research, and education.
Bassem Saad (b. 1994) is an artist/writer born on September 11th and trained in architecture. His practice deals with future visualization and simulation, and economies that distribute violence, pleasure, care, and waste. He attempts to locate space and time for toying with and maneuvering within governance systems, through video, text, spatial installation, and virtual environments. Bassem’s work has been screened and exhibited in different cities, and he has spoken at Harvard University VES, Alserkal Avenue, and through various online channels. His writing appears in FailedArchitecture, Jadaliyya, Unbag, and ArteEast. He is currently a resident at Eyebeam in New York.
Image Caption: Film still from Wound Contra Empire, courtesy of the artists.
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