meeting madeline

with the lovely madeline del toro churney at druthers coffee today. yes, it was a sunny day but a lot of what u see in this picture is madeline, full of knowledge, humor and light. one of my life’s greatest accomplishments is the connection/friendships with extraordinary people, esp women of color. thrilled to continue that tradition here on long island. madeline teaches anthropology at stony brook and i am excited to say, will be one of the panelists for a post-screening community discussion related to a new short film i will be working on next year. more soon.

part of nature

i try to take breaks in between editing (which requires sitting at a computer for long periods of time, staring intently at a screen).

it’s super windy today, so much so that temperatures feel 10 degrees lower than they are. the husband was too cozy reading his book, so i put on my hat and jacket, grabbed my ski gloves and went to west meadow wetlands reserve (next to our house) for a 45 min walk.

i half walked, was half carried by the wind. it was invigorating to feel its force on my body and skin. the trees around me were twisting in the same gusty gale, the grass flattened by it, combed with little bits of sunlight, a few obstinate leaves held on to their branches like yellow tongues licking the sky, everything imbued with a deceptively warm rusty glow.

the clouds waited patiently, capturing and refracting each shade and emotion. the sun finally set in a climactic scene, birds windsurfed overhead, deer walked by me as if it was the most natural thing in the world. what a beautiful home, our planet. it’s the lifeblood that activates our minds and bodies. grateful to be alive, to be present.

highlights from my playlist: tu aja (remix by DJ usman bhatti), yamaha (dacosta), more than this (roxy music), 1979 (the smashing pumpkins), island in the sun (weezer), and float on (modest mouse)

My questions for Shirly Bahar

The obligatory selfie after a satisfying dinner. It was a full house at Hofstra on Nov 9th for a discussion about Shirly Bahar’s book, ‘Documentary Cinema in Israel-Palestine: Performance, the Body, the Home,’ and my film, ‘The Injured Body.’ Here are my questions for Shirly:

1) You say that although oppression and racialization have impacted Palestinians and Mizrahim differently, the documentaries you discuss in the book share a political commitment and performative affinities. They defy the removal of the pain of Israel’s marginalized people from public visibility.

You discuss how documentary performances of pain by Palestinians and Mizrahim, when seen together, invite us to contest the segregation of pain and consider reconnection. Could you elaborate on that?

2) There is one sentence in your book which hit me hard. It is the commonly held notion that ‘the trauma of witnessing destruction directly harms the usage of language.’

Meaning that those who are occupied (on whose minds and bodies violence is constantly enacted) are never seen as credible witnesses of their own pain, of their own lived experiences, based on dominant codes of credibility. It’s like the gaslighting I was talking about in the context of microaggressions. You take issue with this notion. Could you tell us more?

3) Since we are talking about language and violence, I also wanted to bring up the constant threat of violence. You talk about Palestinian children experiencing ‘withheld violence.’

Your words reminded me of Fanon of course, and the muscular contraction of the colonized body. What does this imply in the P/I context?

4) I would like to end with something you say in the book, that ‘it takes perpetual learning and training to try and relate to the pain of others in a politically informed and committed manner.’

You also say: ‘More often than not, those who care for the pain of others are found in relative vulnerability themselves—political, physical, mental—thus chancing their becoming further undone.’

I think of the #BLM movement and its principled support for justice in Palestine. Could you expand on this important point.

The Injured Body: Palestine, Mizrahi Jews, and the Imperial Politics of Color

The brilliant Shirly Bahar and I will be talking about documentary film, colonialism, racism, and the body at Hofstra University on Nov 9, 4:30-5:45pm. It’s a free event but you need to register. More info below.

Join us for a conversation between Shirly Bahar and Mara Ahmed about their recent scholarly and creative work related to oppression and the body. Bahar’s recent book, “Documentary Cinema in Israel-Palestine: Performance, the Body, the Home,” and Ahmed’s upcoming film, “The Injured Body,” both explore how colonialism, marginalization, and daily mental and emotional stresses from racism and othering impact the body. The conversation will spotlight documentary language that makes embodied oppression visible in comparative and global perspectives (in the context of settler colonialism and imperialism), touching on the pain of Palestinians, Mizrahi Jews and people of color, especially women, in the United States. The idea is to shift conventional paradigms of war, conflict and segregated geographies by focusing on (and politicizing) lived experiences of pain and understanding their interrelatedness. The evening will also feature film excerpts.

This ‘Issues in Judaism’ lecture is presented by Hofstra Cultural Center and the Dept of Religion and Jewish Studies, in collab with the depts of History, Global Studies & Geography, Comparative Literature, Languages, & Linguistics, and the Women’s Studies and European Studies Programs.

Thank you to the wonderful Santiago Slabodsky for putting this event together.
Venue: Leo Guthart Cultural CenterTheater, Joan and Donald Axinn Library, First Floor, South Campus

To register go to: hofstra.edu/culture. Or call 516.463.5669. Or go to this link.

the body has memory – a short film

thrilled to share that my short film, the body has memory, has been selected for a juried exhibition at the huntington arts council here on long island.

i created what the brilliant rajesh barnabas calls a ‘video poem’ – a blend of images, dance, music, and poetry i wrote, inspired by work on ‘the injured body,’ my upcoming documentary film.

HAC’s exhibition focuses on the exploration of the human form and will run from november 18 – december 17, 2022. more soon.

Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio

Yesterday I was honored to meet Jeremy Dennis at Ma’s House & BIPOC Art Studio, which is a nonprofit he founded. ‘The project began in June 2020 and serves as a communal art space based on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton, New York. The family house, built in the 1960s, features a residency program for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), art studio, library, along with hosting an array of art and history-based programs for tribe members and the broader local community.’ It is inspiring to see the work Ma’s House is doing in creating, nurturing and presenting BIPOC art. It’s a wonderful way to connect and collaborate with local Indigenous communities. I hope to visit often and work together on mutually meaningful projects. Also, google Jeremy’s brilliant work in photography and storytelling. It’s stunning.

Thx to my dear friend Nancy Ghertner for suggesting I connect with Ma’s House.

[It was rainy and windy yesterday, the first picture of Ma’s House was taken from my car through a rainswept windshield]

Memory Grid at Westbury Arts

Excited that my mixed media piece, ‘Memory Grid,’ has been selected for a juried exhibition at Westbury Arts! The theme is ‘Uncovered Treasures,’ a celebration of mixed-media art and assemblage.

Memory Grid is inspired by the idea of caching memories inside a data grid. It’s engineered to replicate computing architecture where vast amounts of data are sorted and stored using grid technology. But instead of binary data, the piece is meant to archive pictures, colors, and textures. Instead of neat partitions, the elements in each compartment overflow and overlap with adjacent cells, creating complex patterns and whimsical moods. The intent is to create an emotional landscape that beckons and moves on account of these transgressions.

Newsprint, fabric and acrylic paint on illustration board fitted inside an upcycled metal grille
Dim: 27 ½ in x 22 in

The opening reception will be on Sunday, September 4th, 2022 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM at 255 Schrenck Ave, in Westbury. Tickets are free but pls register.

#westburyarts #uncoveredtreasures #artexhibition #mixedmedia #assemblage #assemblageart #maraahmed #memorygrid #westburyny #longisland

Memory Grid, Mixed Media Object by Mara Ahmed

an evening with south asian women artists

so many thx to the beautiful Safia Fatimi whom i met when we exhibited together at Westbury Arts (a wonderfully organized exhibition in which artists were invited to speak about their work) and to Jaishri Abichandani who introduced us to each other. safia invited us to a lovely evening at her place on friday where her talent for “oasis making” was evident. wish i had taken a picture with her. but here is a picture of us together at westbury arts. such a treat to connect with other south asian women artists <3

#southasianartists #southasianart #southasian #longisland #womensupportingwomen #womanpower #summerevening #oasismaking #hospitality #thankful