An initiative of Cairography Collective in residence at Kunsthal Gent, in collaboration with Disarming Design Sandberg Institute.
Curators: Siwar Kraitem and Rasha Dakkak
Monday 7 + 21 June, 17:00 to 19:00, online @Kunsthal Gent
‘Language Café’ is a recurring zoom-based meeting that revolves around language, design, translation, and politics. It roots its conversations within and through contemporary perspectives from the Arabic speaking region and the diaspora. Issues such as translation, canonic hegemony, migration, and politics of terminology are explored. A project of Cairography Collective developed during their residency at Kunsthal Gent, the collective is working in tandem with guest curators from the body of the students of the ‘Disarming Design’ Master's program at the Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam. The language 'café' takes on a different nature each time people gather. With a new menu and suggested imaginary for each session, the hosts and curators play multiple roles, including that of the moderator.
The first series of the café, titled "The Language of Oppression and Resistance" will tackle the language used in media, social media, the power play, and the battle of narratives over what has taken place and continues to take place in Palestine in the last month. Notions and terms such as Nakba, Intifada, colonialism, and gentrification will be explored. During these two sessions, we will unpack, using examples, the role language played primarily on social media but also on newspaper headlines and other media outlets, in deescalating, neutralizing, banking on, and censoring. We are also particularly interested in addressing the language of algorithms and how it was utilized to take down posts, delete pages, as well as the artistic maneuvers and anti-imperialist digital strategies that were employed to counteract the censoring of content in solidarity with Palestine.
Throughout the two sessions, we hope to create a humble archive as well as a glossary of terms for those instances with contested language that can be used as case studies.
We extend this invitation to designers, linguists, artists, and activists to take part and bring examples that will help stir up the conversation.
The Cairography Collective proposes 'independent publishing' as the primary means by which Arab thinkers, writers and artists can find a place in art discourse and practice, in defiance of aesthetic consensus. The collective opposes the homogenisation, vilification or stereotyping of the 'Arab' and criticises practices that exoticise or generalise, through publications, workshops and language cafes that highlight the sensitivities around language and difference, alternative conferences that break with rigid and sometimes slow forms of knowledge creation through informal exchange around themes.
In June, Cairography Collective has planned three activities: two Language Café meetings and an alternative conference PRiCKS, entitled 'Touching Publication', on Wednesday 9 June, 17-20.