Amman-based MMAG Foundation has developed a series of care packages filled with intangibles; collections of memes, thoughts, films, photographs, songs and videos that lend a sense of comfort, entertainment, thought, or visual delight as forms of care.
Co-imagined with Sarah Rifky – writer, curator and co-founder of Beirut (2012–15), an art institution in Cairo – and in collaboration with independent Egyptian news platform, Mada Masr, these care packages each have a different theme and contain a unique set of materials for the viewer to unravel. Just as you would unwrap a carefully curated package sent by a friend from afar, enjoy the thoughtfulness in which each care package has been assembled by contributors Sarah Rifky, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, the Rocca Family and Zach Blas.
Throughout the coming weeks, the MMAG Foundation will continue to dispatch their care packages through their blog.
A couple of Art Dubai’s current favourites:
Care Package #3: Yes to Falsafeh, prepared by The Rocca Family Project
Prepared by Ola El-Khaldi and Diala Khawasnih, who work under the name ‘The Rocca Family Project’ (named lovingly after a pet cat), Care Package #3 pays homage to the Arabic concept of ‘falsafeh’, used to denote someone who is trying to philosophise, but oftentimes sounds ridiculous and is not taken seriously. Posing questions and wonderings to a mystical philosopher entitled ‘Zizi’, the care package offers up a quirky and unusual amalgamation of Q&A’s, one of which offers a mantra and life philosophy – in Arabic – that translates to ‘I have a big belly and I love my belly’ – a video musing, sticker, and lecture, also by Zizi, it takes the viewer on a whimsical and dreamlike journey through the artists’ collective imagination.
Care Package #4: Psychedelic Vision, prepared by Zach Blas
Artist, filmmaker and writer Zach Blas’s practice spans moving image, computation, theory, performance, and science fiction. A lecturer at the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, Blas has also exhibited at the Tate Modern, Walker Art Centre, Whitechapel Gallery, amongst others. His dynamic works have addressed notions of artificial intelligence, policing as a form of mysticism, the crystal balls of Silicon Valley, and time travel. His curated Care Package provides an insight into his work and perspective, and includes his own writing, a book recommendation, a light show, music and artworks all centred around the “potentialities of psychadelia”.
Care Package #6: The Antechamber Pledge, prepared by Edwin Nasr
Developed by writer, independent researcher and Assistant to the Director at Ashkal Alwan, a non-profit committed to contemporary artistic practice, production, and research, Edwin Nasr’s writing focuses largely on cinematic modes of production in the Arab world and the digital reproducibility of collective traumas. Care Package #6 considers the emotional, social, and political reactions to life in quarantine through video, song, artist works and curiously, a social media post by Britney Spears. The Care Package asks, “How can you implore others to take action when you’re unable to get out of bed in the morning? How would you summon the material and affective interdependencies you’d enjoyed prior to the pandemic while presently condemned to a state-imposed routine of self-isolation? Were you considered an ‘essential’ worker by your government and, if not, do you feel relieved or disappointed about it?”
Care Package #7: Care for All, prepared by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez
Curator Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez prepared a care package which includes several learnings, writings and video content that reflect on the current state of affairs. She writes: “A virus pulled out of its habit and habitats by routes and worlds that hold and enhance extractive capitalism” writes Elizabeth Povinelli (reference). If anything can be observed from the imposition of the confinement across many countries on all the continents, then it is that the pandemic deepens the existing privileges, extreme poverty and centuries of violence of human-made capitalist and colonialist drive. To really challenge the situation, learn from it from wherever one is situated and possibly affect the economic and social events of the next weeks and months, if one is healthy, has the privilege to stay, live and work at a home that is a safe space (and possibly with an access to internet), then one’s productivity and creativity should be transformed into caring for all and helping out their loved ones, but equally so should be forming solidarity around the most vulnerable and fragile ones in their immediate proximity or beyond. Take care, give care.