Marwa Arsanios, Who Is Afraid of Ideology?, Part 4: Reverse Shot, 2022, video installation, 35' Courtesy of the artist and mor charpentier

Marwa Arsanios: Micro Resistances

15.12. 2023 - 14.02. 2024
Curated by: Jen Kratochvil
14.12. 2023 19h

What is the smallest force of resistance, and how does it contribute to the broader fight against oppression? How do we form and define resistance, and how precisely should we know our opponents? The first solo show of Marwa Arsanios in Slovakia doesn’t aim to answer such big questions. Instead, it opens up two particular in-depth research trajectories of micro resistance; located in a specific time and place against an overarching backdrop of larger contemporary societal struggles. Through two narrative video essays and a series of text and textile works, Arsanios speaks of ecofeminism, the possibilities of alternative social organizations, and economies based on collectivity, kinship, and the rehabilitation of our relationship to the land.

“The land shall not be inherited.”
“The land shall only be passed for usership.”
“The land shall only be used by people who do not own a land.”
“The land shall be tended by the cooperative of people who live around it in
agreement with each other. The produce should be divided equally amongst
the community who work the land.”

Such are some of the principles that were drafted by the people involved in transforming a piece of land that was previously used as a quarry to a social Waqf or a Mashaa. An existing land status that is drawn from the Ottoman land code. Arsanios, with a group of comrades, used this old property law to build up a functioning contemporary community of people living outside of the constraints of the modern urban infrastructure, its inherent tensions of social stratification and inequality. To offer a form of co-habitation in a direct relationship to land, as a way to provide an alternative to the extractivist relation of late capitalism to property ownership, and as a model example of how to tackle the ongoing climate catastrophe.

No gesture of resistance is small enough to be insignificant. No political action is to be lost within the larger social struggle. No matter how context and location-specific an idea or a seed of resistance might be, it will find a land to flourish within.

One might wonder how a disowned quarry in the North of Lebanon relates to the political urgencies and struggles of the divided society in post-election Slovakia. Why should we consider something so distant and disconnected from the present local situation? Art’s potential lies very often in an ability to provide analogies and reflections, prisms breaking information into its individual elements, frameworks, and methodologies applicable elsewhere. How do we abstract and utilize indigenous knowledge without any appropriative extractions? How does a current interpretation of age-old documents, or religious texts, offer a solution to a problem in a current and fully secular setting? How do we learn from plants, bacteria, and other microorganisms while considering our societal structures?

Finding ourselves in a bit of a cul-de-sac lately, oscillating between lesser evils during every election of late, one should start looking outside of our own mess and search for beneficial inputs elsewhere. Not only across the current geopolitical map but also across time and history. We are hardly separated, the land knows very little of national borders, and ideas can still float freely (despite many attempts all over the globe to make this harder).

Micro Resistances can be truly understood as a context-specific case study. And case studies provide a better understanding of specific phenomena. It is research material, packaged and presented as a contemporary art exhibition. Simple as that.