[-empyre-] introducing week 3

Monika Weiss gniewna at monika-weiss.com
Mon Nov 24 06:56:07 EST 2014

Dear Murat,

I am so happy to discover this mutual interest in the idea of a Square. I would love to read your poem. If not possible to include in the discussion thread (because of how long it is) then, if you don’t mind, please email it to me directly. 
I have been working towards a public square project on Tahrir Square in Cairo since 2011— below is a link to my essay about this project, published in 2013 by Columbia Univ Press as part of Cairo: Images of Transition:

I am also currently developing a concept for a project on Victory Square in New Delhi (part of the work developing for Delhi in general, for next year, with the curator Amit Mukhopadhyay) and I have done other projects around the notion of and/or on the site of actual squares within cities.
About Tahrir Square project, I wrote recently this paragraph:
Shrouds II (Tahrir Square) is a public project and an experimental film with participation of Cairo citizens. The project considers public memory and amnesia in the construction of the space of a city and the nature of drawing as a performative language sited within historical memory and contemporary urban landscape. Evoking ancient rituals of lamentation the project includes performance on Tahrir Square, filmed from an airplane, with participation of hundreds of women volunteers. The resulting film incorporates voices of local inhabitants. Online discussion forums, essays and aerial photographs accompany the project. To paraphrase Saskia Sassen, cities are potential spaces of resistance to military power: “weak regimes.”  Tahrir Square functions as a meta-historical site. Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Tiananmen Square, Union Square, Zuccotti Park, Taksim Gezi Park are public spaces engaged by citizens as sites of active history, as visible wounds within the body of the City, exposing systems of oppression against the backdrop of individual suffering. Performing silent gestures of lamentation the women cover Tahrir Square with large sheets of white canvas which they stich together. They lie down drawing abstract lines around their bodies. Tahrir Square morphs into a drawing landscape, where empathy and collective mourning, including mourning the loss of others who are supposed to be our enemies, becomes a political tool, in opposition to heroic fantasies of conquest and power. Shot from the airplane the film shows the performance from a great distance, with identities of the participants weaved into a story about the city and its fluid surface.

On Nov 22, 2014, at 11:42 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Perhaps the most powerful form of symbolic space is the plaza, from Tienanmen Square to Tahir Square to Maidan (which is a Turkish word) to Damascus to Taksim Square in Istanbul, to cite a few relatively recent examples, the symbolic action most feared by governments. I wrote a poem about thirty years ago "Fatima's Winter" exactly on the idea of the square (attached to a tool) as a potentially revolutionary space. Participants to our dialogue at Empyre may be interested in it. Though published, the poem is not on line. I don't know whether I can include it within the the post or attach is as a document. The poem is a few pages.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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