What Work Works


(Collective Text in collaboration with Ali Mir, Noor Abed and Mark Lotfy)

To begin writing this text, our guiding question was a very simple one: What kind of artwork is of consequence? We very concretely kept our individual works as a bedrock from which to think ahead. We have attempted to outline together what our place within the art-field is.



The singular is insufficient

An individual subject cannot deal with reality individually. An artist has temporal positions with specific professions. However, these ‘undetermined places’ are particular borders with clear attitudes and determined goals, no matter what the story and study of each artist is. Without acknowledging this, it is hard to press on.

Furthermore, if no human is being asked to stand on his/her own, then no art work should be asked to remain single and without association, either. Even if this is not being asked of the work specifically, and if we are inching toward forging a community at every given instance, we may be required to specifically ask this of a particular work as well.

All forms of thinking/art making must outline, with precision, what is at stake

This may not be particular easy, for to do this would be to actively ask (force, rather) oneself and others to stand by what they have produced, and defend it. The reluctance to propose something coincides with our fear of failure. To not stake a claim is to necessarily never fail.

What is understood as linear is not; the future makes the present:

There is no point in trying to somehow exit time, and there is even less merit in seeking transcendence. However, to over-emphasize a now, is factually incorrect when looked at through the lens of pre-emptive wars, the derivative market, proscriptive analytics. To define an inside of time, we would need to take stock of reality as is, for reality is more complicated now than ever before: the future is collapsing into the present.

Strategize honesty:

The work should be weary of speaking about or around. The work should be weary of pretending to be able to speak about or around. A work starts from its own urgency/need and points to its own collapse. Therefore, the work should expose the social dynamic, the way it exists, without glorifying it. Understanding the structure we exist in realistically, not tendentiously, then evoking it in all its complexity.

The work should be passionate, not emotional. Passion is different from emotion: emotion fits into an individual perspective of subjective experience as a strong feeling, while passion has something to do with the formation of collective identity; in the formation of a ‘we’. Passion applies objectivity and reason to emotion, and entrenches itself comprehensively in the subject.

Intention and action need to be re-caliberated continuously. What is intended (the proposed outcome of the said work), more often than not, will not be in congruence with its action (the said work). When this happens, intention-action strategies must be re-caliberated.

Curate yourself at every given instance, and pathologize structural conditions:

To curate oneself is not to magically seize agency, it is, rather, to retain primacy in the idea of the de-fetishized individual as one who is seen as magically capable of seizing agency. It is to make apparent what is implicit: the structure that you operate in and are operated by, is not particular to you, and dealing with reality is not enough. We need to understand reality as not solid, but as being constantly shaped in real time. We have to curate ourselves with conviction and precision.