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"Is There Nowhere Else Where We Can Meet?"

This performative drawing project shares it's title with a short story written by Nadine Gordimer from her book The Soft Voice of The Serpent. Gordimer’s story presents a reversal of roles in which the author self critically presents self as other, female as aggressor, and elite as alien. Described in shades of gray, Gordimer illustrates a moment of blending binaries and post colonial reckoning where black meets white, oppressor meets oppressed, privilege meets need, fear meets intimacy, empathy meets repulsion, and female meets male. Gordimer erases all communication between characters, and readers are left to experience an interaction that escalates towards violence and left to interpret the intent and feelings of each character. Reflecting on Gordimer’s writing and her presentation of self as the source of both the problem and the solution in navigating post-colonial racial tension, this project developed out of a similar place of internal wrestling. Recognizing that erasure can be a precedent for violence and the cause of it’s escalation, this project is an effort to explore how this narrative manifests in the personal and political history between myself and my partner and our countries of origin, the U.S. and Iraq.  The word أشعر “Ashaar” is the Arabic translation for “I feel”. Repeated attempts to be seen and known are interpreted as a threat to self and the violence becomes an act of self preservation as much as an act of destruction. The violence enacted is the result of fear and unknowing in both this drawing project and in the narrative of Gordimer’s writing.

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