Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s artistic practice comprises work across sound, image, and text, which they often develop into expansive multimedia installations and live performances. This program explores their work through the figure of the screenshot. In contemporary media, screenshots are a way for people to immediately capture online images and computer data within the frame of their electronic devices. Abbas and Abou-Rahme often play on this cultural sampling in their work to explore associative links between various cultural artifacts and locations in Palestine. Works from their Screenshots series (2014–) may pair media coverage of recent events with images of centuries-old architecture, or situate poetic text files within visual narratives of collective protest.
Crucially, these montaged screenshot images also contain what the artists call “liveness”—a performative traversal of cultural heritage and distant spaces that is vital for fashioning relationships to territory of fragmented or destroyed areas in Palestine. “Liveness” also captures the transitory character of screenshots as a whole—they mark moments in a larger process of navigating personal and collective storage. The artists’ Screenshots not only imagine new cultural assemblages but model a way of reanimating places subject to destruction. Abbas and Abou-Rahme use them to construct a shared cultural atmosphere across colonized terrains where—as in Palestine—rights to physical passage, access to cultural heritage, and freedom of movement are attacked. While delving into the artists’ broader practice, the conversation explores how “screenshots” might function as democratic devices.
Participants: Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, moderated by Katherine C. M. Adams.
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Boundary Monuments Dissolve curated by CCS Bard graduate student Katherine C. M. Adams.