Philip Rizk & Basma al-Sharif
This World is Strange
This World is Strange began in Cairo, where the limits of free speech and a deteriorating political situation inspired the need to strengthen community, and a desire to address the changing cultural landscape under dictatorship. Examining the systemic reasons for the drain of culture from colonised/oppressed cultures into Imperial/Colonial States, Basma al-Sharif and Philip Rizk aimed to humbly resist this by questioning the usual circulation of culture through collective translations of a selection of films into Arabic.
After unexpectedly relocating to Berlin in the Spring of 2020, al-Sharif and Rizk saw the need to continue their project in light of the large diaspora of Arabic speaking communities in Europe. Their project is expanding and looking at the history of dubbing and its link to censorship, the logic of subtitling films into languages of the global North, and their distribution.
Their research will culminate with a week-long residency with artists, writers, musicians, and translators to engage with a selection of curated films whose form and subject matter question dominant modes of production. The participants will take part in collective activities (writing, performing, recording, translating) with the aim of producing ways to actively disrupt a hegemonic flow of culture and create links between voices that have overwhelmingly been directed towards audiences in the Occident.
Basma al-Sharif and Philip Rizk share a life and a child, are both artist/filmmakers and not normally collaborators. Since 2018 they have been working together on a project that explores translation as a radical act in disrupting the common circulation of culture. Al-Sharif was raised between France, the US, and the Gaza Strip and developed her practice nomadically. She works between cinema and installation to explore the legacy of colonialism through satirical, immersive, and lyrical works. Major exhibitions include: MOMA, New York (2020), CCA, Glasgow (2019), the Whitney Biennial, New York (2017), les Rencontres d’Arles (2016), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015), the New Museum, New York (2014), Al Riwaq Bienniale Palestine (2015), the Berlin Documentary Forum (2014), the Sharjah Biennial (2012), Videobrasil, São Paulo (2011), and Manifesta 8, Murcia (2011). She has participated in international film festivals in Locarno, Rotterdam, Berlin, Milan, London, Toronto, New York, Montreal, and Yamagata. Basma is represented by Galerie Imane Farès in Paris, and distributed by Video Data Bank and Arsenal. In his films, Philip Rizk experiments with methods of “making the habitual strange”. In Out on the Street (2015) he uses performance, in his found footage films Mapping Lessons (2020) and Terrible Sounds (2022) he experiments with the technique of montage. In a world that is breaking down, a question that runs throughout Rizk’s projects is, “how do we prepare ourselves for what is to come?” Rizk is a member of the Mosireen video collective behind the archive 858.ma. His writings include the essay 2011 is not 1968: a letter to an onlooker, and the upcoming book co-authored with Jasmina Metwaly On Trials: A Manual on the Theatre of Law (Archive Books). He irregularly teaches in classrooms and workshops. Al-Sharif and Rizk are based in Berlin.