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  • Writer's pictureGEM LAB

High Dam: Lecture Performance by Ala Younis

The first of two lecture performances with artist and researcher Ala Younis

//November 12, 2021

//10 AM -12 PM EST

//Digital Event

//Register on Eventbrite

In the 1960s, Gamal Abdel Nasser hinted that ‘al-magnon’ (Youssef Chahine) should return to the United Arab Republic (UAR) to make films again. Chahine accepted a commission to direct the first UAR-USSR co-production: a 70mm colour Cinemascope feature film on the High Dam project in Aswan. He made not one, but two films. The People and the Nile was shot as the construction works were taking place; but when the edit was finished in 1968, it was rejected. Chahine readapted the work to be approved as a new film that would fit the two states’ visions and was released in 1972. In the 1990s, Chahine stated that, in the process of the Soviet Union’s disintegration, he could admit “without fear” to having “stolen a copy” of the first censored version of the film. He released it in 1997 under the title Once Upon a Time... The Nile. Elements from the reverse paths of two creative works on the High Dam offer an insight into the processes that governed the politics of the era, particularly the propaganda apparatus of the UAR and the USSR, and the tricks Chahine resorted to when his work did not fit its producers’ vision.

Ala Younis is an artist. Research forms a big part of her practice, as do curating, collaboration, film and book projects. Her projects deal with collective experiences that collapse into personal ones, and with how the archive plays on predilections and how its lacunas and mishaps manipulate the imagination. Her work has been featured in solo shows in Amman, London, Seville, Sharjah, Dubai and New York, and at the Istanbul and Gwangju Biennials, New Museum Triennial, and her “Plan for Greater Baghdad” (2015) premiered at the 56th Venice Biennale’s central exhibition. In 2013, she curated Kuwait’s first national pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. She holds a B.Sc. in Architecture from the University of Jordan, and a Masters of Research from Goldsmiths College. She is member of the Advisory Board of Berlinale’s Forum Expanded and the Academy of Arts of the World (Cologne), and co-founder of the publishing initiative Kayfa ta.


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