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(ILR) Wassila Abboud: Remove The Dot

Updated: Jul 12

Case Study One:

My work has always been centred around Mahdi Amel, Lebanese Marxist and Philosopher who’s work was predominantly in Arabic and French, with the most recent translation of ‘Arab Marxism and National Liberation’ into English. Throughout the past six years, I’ve worked with the Mahdi Amel Center to create a digital archive of published and unpublished works via International Institute of Social History, based in Amsterdam. My approach to Mahdi Amels word is in two forms, first is through a theoretical lens analysing the language that was used in his texts, including essays, books and poems. Through this analysis, I look at his books and their relationship to his poems, and how love is the underlying constant which has manifested through very different formats. The second, is through a personal lens, approaching archival material of Amel, my great uncle, and someone who shaped my life in intrinsic ways. On the first, one case study I will use is Amel’s opus, Theoretical Prolegomena to the Study of the Impact of Socialist Thought on the National Liberation Movement where he emphasised the importance of national liberation movements born from anti-colonial struggles and context. He argues such movements are the major force in global history after World War II in that the socialist revolution cannot obtain in the West or anywhere else without the success of the national liberation project in the ‘Global South’. What I hope to also explore is the relationship between cultural production and material reality, an interdependent link Amel committed his life trying fighting for and practicing.

Case Study Two:

I would like to include references which relate to my seperate on-going research project ‘Remove The Dot’. This series derives its name from Zakaria Alzubaidi, a political prisoner, one of the five prisoners who attempted to liberate themselves from the high-security Israeli prison, Gilboa. Zakaria was arrested before he could complete his thesis which was written in arabic. In a call with his lawyer, he asked her to remove the dot from the final paragraph he wrote, symbolizing his wish for the story to continue. His literal words translates to “Remove the Dot”. In its foundations, by using Alzubaidi work as a case study, I am by default reimagining our knowledge and cultural production systems. Alzubaidi’s thesis contextualises the Palestinian prisoners’ struggle and recognises that the Palestinian condition is one of imprisonment. It helps us understand that that our prisoners have always been the compass of our struggle and insists that prisoner releases are key to our Palestinian liberation. Within the confines of Israeli prison, Palestinians create schools for liberation, developing curriculums, and producing novels and essays from inside prison walls and prison has become a sort of education. Alzubaidi work is one of the many ‘motorrads’, the prisoners and those in camps, who shape the meaning of words like ‘sumud’, ‘martyr’ and ‘liberation’, born out of a supple, even ecumenical ideological approach which collectively shared amongst others who share the same clarity. This clarity goes beyond modern or political vocabulary and is rooted in love.The dreamers whose words exist outside words.

With the help of another personal initiative, my goal for this program is to create an alternative, native, and independent lexicon, in response to the institutional censorship and alteration of our words in Europe and the wider West. Throughout Foreign Objekt 2024 Residency, I wish to create a mental and physical space that bypasses institutional firewalls and helps us linger in spaces of imagination of what true liberation looks like. To imagine liberation, we must look to the people who dared to dream about it, the people who centred love in their revolutionary discourse, a lexicon beyond words which no post modern, political vocabulary or AI generated discourse can truly capture. I feel this resident helps us step out of western frameworks and build infrastructures of our own, infrastructures which go beyond any rational description. The framework for these new infrastructures must not lead to dead metaphors, but instead work to keep our dead alive, and where our words are met in the way they are intended. The only way this foundation can be built is by looking to those at the forefront of our liberation struggle; our political prisoners and our martyrs.

My ongoing initiative which I will be running alongside this project is called ‘Remove The Dot’, a series which derives its name from political prisoner Zakaria Alzubaidi. Remove The Dot’ is an on-going collaborative program commencing in November, across 10 gatherings over eight months in intimate spaces that align with the ethos of imagination we aim to cultivate. These spaces include community centers and cultural hubs, particularly in the Nieuw-West part of Amsterdam, which is predominantly inhabited by immigrant populations. The syllabus will exclusively feature readings from political prisoners, freedom fighters, and martyrs who, through their writings, offer alternative perspectives and knowledge productions rooted in the core of their struggles, proposing imaginative visions for the future. The list includes Basel Al Araj, Zakaria Zubaidi, Wessam Al Rafidi, Ibrahim Al Rai, and many more.

My vision is that ‘Remove The Dot’ and Intelligence-Love-Revolution naturally evolve together to help build the foundations in creating a new language, centered around love. The outcome of these sessions will be a new lexicon, which will take shape through a publication developed by us in collaboration with Fanfare as designers. This publication will serve as a tangible record of our collaborative efforts and a resource for others seeking to challenge oppressive language systems.

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