PHANTOMS OF PROMISE

This evening program, Phantoms of Promise, attunes us to the ghostly traces of dreams and aspirations. For a migrant who has lost their family and friends or a home that will never come back, a type of phantom pain always returns – often across generations, inherited for decades or centuries. Not only does memory – or the memory of memory – return like a specter for those in exile, but the dominant image of the migrant is, as Sara Ahmed puts it, “a rather ghostly figure, haunting contemporary culture.” During this gathering at SAVVY, we will listen and speak near the figure of the phantom, as in both promised futures and the ghosts of returning pain. We will consider the insidious and often broken promises of a better life and citizenship for the migrant, that echo across generations – as well as the specters of radically different futures that still are possible.

As filmmaker Jonelle Twum points out in her project On Hold, which will be presented during the evening, waiting is a state of “apprehension, boredom, impatience, but also hope and expectation.” Waiting could even be said to be “the space between being and nothingness,” to cite the words of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. The phantoms of promise that make their mark in such waiting can be heard in the noncitizen archive, a community collection based in Sweden. The archive was founded in 2017 by noncitizen, the collective that organizes this gathering and which invites you to this event. During the evening we will listen to and breathe life into phantoms of promise, through the rich texture of Logan February’s poetry; the glitchy and ominous sonic performances of Ahmad Alattar; the vernacular collections of Black Archives Sweden and the haunting art of its founder, Jonelle Twum; the careful mode of listening to everyday sounds in search of a home by researcher Anna Kantopolou, in her work with Ultrared and noncitizen; and in the films of Alireza Masomi and Taysir Batniji. These are low freedom songs that do not necessarily speak directly to power but instead offer glimpses of grief, happiness, longing, beauty, and love, as quotidian ways of refusing dominant modes of national culture and of imagining a world without borders.

noncitizen  is a collective exploring border politics, moving images, and art. Founded in Sweden in 2015, the collective has organized film screenings, media workshops, public conversations, and cultural events across borders. noncitizen opposes repressive boundaries between citizens and noncitizens; between those granted rights and those denied them. We do this by regularly creating forums for discussions and encounters, as well as supporting the production and archiving of films, images, and texts.

    

Participants

Ahmad Alattar (b. 1997, Lebanon) is a sound designer with a multidisciplinary background. Alattar lacks formal musical training and influences from his formative years but uses Arab pop song excerpts and virtual modular synthesizers to transform the music he was meant to have experienced growing up. His work aims to evoke the sensation of being stripped of music while retaining a music-adjacent atmosphere, resulting in an eerie and captivating auditory experience that captures the essence of rediscovering music.

Taysir Batniji (b. 1966 Gaza) lives and works between Paris and Gaza. He graduated in arts from Al-Najah University in Nablus, Palestine (1994), and from the Bourges School of Fine Arts in France (1997). Since then, he has been dividing his time between two countries and cultures, from where he developed a multi-media practice, including drawing, installation, photography, video and performance. Batniji has participated in numerous exhibitions since 2002, including the upcoming Lyon Biennial (2024), Berlin Biennale (2022), Jeu de Paume (2016-2017 & 2020) and Centre Pompidou (2014) in Paris, Venice Biennale (2003, 2009 & 2011), Witte de With in Rotterdam (2004–2005).

Anna Kontopoulou(b. 1979, Greece) is an artist, practice-based researcher, curator, and educator working across cultural institutions, educational spaces, and community groups in London, Stockholm, and Athens. Besides her research, Kontopolou has developed long-term participatory projects, exhibitions and writings at the intersection of art and social issues like the struggles around the privatisation of education, democracy, migration, public housing, body politics, and care. Her book Curation of Autonomy offers insights into the radical potentials of curatorial solidarity projects.

Logan February(b. 1999, Nigeria) is a multidisciplinary poet living in Berlin. Author of In the Nude (Ouida Poetry, 2019) and three chapbooks of poetry, their writing appears in several international publications, including collected editions in Spanish and German. A 2024 Literature Fellow of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program, February has received other fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation and Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, as well as the Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. Their latest book, Mental Voodoo (Engeler Verlage/Poesie Dekolonie, 2024), is a selection of poems translated into German by Christian Filips.

Alireza Masomi(b. 1999, Afghanistan) came to Sweden from Afghanistan in 2015 and fought for eight years for his right to asylum. The short film Svarta Lamm (Black Sheep) depicts this period in his life. Through the organization noncitizen, he created his first documentary, the short film Människor på en ön (People on an Island). Masomi is currently studying film in Trollhättan, hoping to continue telling stories through film about people’s experiences – the joys of life and the difficulties we have to go through.

Jonelle Twum(b. 1992, Ghana/Sweden) is an artist and filmmaker using archives and a broad array of media to interrogate issues of migration, memory, materiality, collectivity, desires, the body via Black feminist theories and the quotidian. A central part of her artistic practice is the project, Black Archives Sweden, which is an experimental and material interrogation of living archives. Twum has shown works at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Moderna Museet Stockholm, HotDocs and Malmö Konsthall.

Afrang Nordlöf Malekian(b. 1995, Iran/Sweden) lives and works in Berlin. His artistic and curatorial practice deals with the question of how to think about the political expression contained in fleeting moments or mundane actions, which are often dismissed as apolitical. Nordlöf Malekian has previously conducted artistic research at the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut, and been a resident at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, and holds an MA from the Dutch Art Institute. His work has been shown in places such as the 10th Berlin Biennale, Moderna Museet and West Den Haag. Nordlöf Malekian curates programs and exhibitions as part of the noncitizen collective.

Christian Rossipal (b. 1991, Sweden) is a scholar, writer, and curator based in Stockholm and New York. He holds a PhD from New York University and is a member of noncitizen. His writing on borders, migration, and documentary has appeared in Film Quarterly, Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, and The Global South, among other journals. He has written on the noncitizen archive for the anthology Migrant, Multicultural and Diasporic Heritage: Beyond and Between Borders and World Records Journal. Christian was the programmer of two editions of the CinemAfrica film festival (2021–2022) and edited an installation on Édouard Glissant for the 34th São Paulo Biennale which was subsequently commissioned by the Amant Foundation in Brooklyn (2022).