Reading X the Unknown

Isshaq Albarbary and Naeem Mohaiemen

June 23, 2022, 6:30pm
Géza, 306 Maujer

Departing from his Dutch residency identity card on which his country of origin, Palestine, is marked as “XXX (unknown)”, Isshaq Albarbary peels away the disembodied layers that come together in the making of an ID card. First, he looks at the historical moment when the X entered Western consciousness and when four distinct, contemporaneous genocides paved the way for modern notions of subjectivity and statehood that continue to shape contemporary state bureaucracy’s methods and truth claims. Next, looking again at his case, he ponders how these western bureaucracies swiftly reprogram their collective memories and hard-wired memory chips. After his presentation, Isshaq will engage in an open conversation with New York-based filmmaker and researcher Naeem Mohaiemen.

This event is part of For Your Reference a series in which our New York Studio & Research residents present a single reference (whether an object, a film, a word, a historic occurrence, a plant, a concept, a person…) and then take their time to unpack it through conversation with the audience.

About the speaker

Naeem Mohaiemen studied at two schools run by imported leaders—New Tripoli in Libya with a Maltese headmaster, and St Joseph in Bangladesh with Jesuit priests. The Arabic language teacher was quick with his slaps, treating some as children of a lesser tongue. It was some kind of early lesson in realpolitik.