Laughing on the River, Your Eyes Drown in Tears
Performance, 35 minutes
In Arabic With English Subtitles
Commissioned by Jameel Art Center, 2023
As if narrating to an audience gathered around water, artist Hussein Nassereddine orates stories of bygone poetry, and of poets whose jaws would appear brimming with marble.
His fabulations are at once timeless and shaped by specific historical encounters, mirroring the complex rapport between the Arabic language, poetics and water. The artist invites us to long desert nights where sea waves wash over poets’ bodies, and then turn into silver shimmering atop ponds, foreseeing the glimmer on the surface of rivers, alongside which kingdoms and their luscious gardens would come to be built centuries later.
Tears turn to ponds, and ponds dissipate over time. Nothing remains but the wet voice of the poet, and librarians’ records held in dry books, and historians’ accounts written on papers flooding with the blue of rivers and springs.
This lecture-performance, held in Arabic with English subtitles, draws out from Nassereddine’s examination of histories and resources of poetry, ruins, construction, water and image-making.