We are not worried in the least

نحن لسنا قلقین على الإطلاق

An exhibition by Jasmina Metwaly

In 2016, SAVVY Contemporary inaugurated a series of solo exhibitions by filmmakers during the weeks of the Berlinale - starting with Welcome to Applied Fictionby Jean Pierre Bekolo, followed by The Law of the Pursuerby Amos Gitai. Film-makers are invited to work with the medium of the exhibition and present re-search materials from their archives: extra footage, objects, texts, notes collected in the process of film-making. For its third year, SAVVY Contemporary has conceived a project with Egyptian-Polish filmmaker, artist and activist Jasmina Metwaly, who has been invited to work with the material she has been producing since 2011, in the aftermath of the Egyptian uprisings.

We are not Worried in the Least نحن لسنا قلقين على الإطلاق is the outcome of this invitation. 

The historical background is the turbulent political and social landscape of Egypt in this timeframe: the uprisings of 2011 and the constitution of new civil formations (such as unions) and the strengthening of grassroots initiatives; a time of hope and imagination for new political groups, new disappointing elections, followed by a military coup that has repressed citizens’ rights, forbidding public gatherings and protests in public spaces through the violent reinforcement of laws and the production of a continuous state of fear, effectively eliminating any opposition.

The title of the exhibition is a direct reference to the current permanent state of paranoia in the country, a political limbo that can only be described as a state of mundane and monotonous violence. Waiting in police stations or in courtrooms, on the phone for news from loved ones, the struggle has dramatically changed the lives of those involved. In the face of this existential and physical exhaustion, growing bored with or tired of it all may be the only way to overcome the current state of affairs. As the artist herself has pointed out, boredom comes as an effect that follows a period of dramatic and rapid (social, political, sexual,…) transformations. At the same time, boredom becomes a way to keep paranoia, anxiety and fear for your own life and/or the life of others at bay; boredom as a form of survival, of passive resistance. When the ability to affect changes through direct forms of action has been deeply compromised, boredom seems to become the only way out from the coercion, the social and political violence and repression systematically exercised by the Egyptian state. 

The choreography of these filmic materials, which the artist has edited and com-posed in new constellations for this solo-show, encourages a reflection on the different modes in which events are translated and fictionalized when captured by a camera, how experiences can be undone and retold through framing (understood as a way of drawing) and editing. In a historical moment in which political events get quickly spectacularized and distributed globally in the form of images, this exhibition speaks of the multiplicity of roles we play when we are producing as well as looking at them, and speculatively wonders what these pictures, now presented in Berlin, actually want.

Born to an Egyptian father and a Polish mother, JASMINA METWALY is a Cairo-Berlin-based artist and filmmaker, and member of Mosireen collective. She works in video and film, and has recently started drawing again. She likes to work with people and their histories, texts, archives, images, scripts and drawings. She is interested in how stories create stories, and how they leave the space of one reality and enter another, intertwining the boundaries of both. Rooted in performance and theatre, her works focus on process-based practices that have a social function that generates tension between participants and audiences.

Metwaly’s work has been exhibited at international art venues and festivals including Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, IFFR–International Film Festival Rotterdam, Sfeir-Semler Gallery and Berlinale Forum Expanded. Since 2010 she has also collaborated on projects with filmmaker Philip Rizk. Together, they have recently co-curated a program How to Act: On Stages and Storytellers at Beirut, in Cairo. In 2015, their feature-length film, Out on the Street, was presented in the German Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale and at MoMA within the exhibition Films from Here: Recent views from the Arab world. In 2017 she was an artist in residency at the DAAD in Berlin.

The project is presented within the program of the 13th Forum Expanded|68th Berlinale and of Archive Außer Sich.Archive außer sich, a project of Arsenal–Institute for Film and Video Art in cooperation with Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) as part of The New Alphabet, a HKW project supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media due to a ruling of the German Bundestag.