Conceived as an exercise in addressing the social, intellectual and psychic legacies of entering and leaving collaborations, Emotional Architecture is a project initiated in Cairo in 2012.
In thinking through a range of situations—from minor artist collectives, and temporary social movements, to grand historical narratives—we began by asking: what happens to knowledge that was borne in collaboration when collaborations break up? (which often they do). We talked together with friends about how certain dynamics of power become apparent—like a ghost, say of an underlying governing structure—but only in moments of emotional involvement and heightened awareness in which a threshold has been b/reached. We wanted to articulate what it is that comes to be known in these encounters with one’s own ideological and/or physiological limits, specifically in relation to collective contexts in which the soul is at work. We tried to contain these events in language and we commissioned our collaborators to write, as much as possible, from the edges of their (inter) disciplines—journalism, activism, filmmaking, education, comedy, philosophy, anthropology and art history. What we found instead was that meaning breaks down and that it grows harder to speak with conviction when we no longer inhabit those conditions, and can no longer see the apparition. Our engagement with these concerns (happened to have) developed at a particular political disjunction, during which the ground of our analysis kept moving and the rules no longer applied.
A series of publications came out of this process. The first is titled We started by calling it the summer of two fires and a landslide. and it includes text and image based contributions by Haig Aivazian, Clare Davies, Nida Ghouse and Malak Helmy. It was printed in October 2014. The second is titled No Fantasy without Protest and it comprises essays by Lina Attalah, Motaz Attalla and Philip Rizk. It was printed in September 2015.
We started by calling it the summer of two fires and a landslide.
Concerned with notions of spontaneous combustion and material refusal, specifically in relation to the incineration of significant buildings in Cairo at various points in its history, the three texts assume the gap that opens up between possible and impossible worlds when things light themselves on fire.
The Immolation of the Nation
Cairo Variety Show
Keyword Searches for Dust
Edited by Nida Ghouse and Malak Helmy
No Fantasy without Protest
How does one translate events of psychological violence and lexical transgression? Can one reposition unstable desires into language without arresting them? What is it to interpret these conditions as they register on a corporeal level, at the scale of the individual, and also in relation to the fragmentation, reconfiguration or dissolution of a group? The task was not just to translate words and images, but emotional and physiological transformation, changes in one’s interior composition. Can one transcribe the experience of “intolerable complexity” onto a textual plane?
People left to themselves
Fear the everyday state
Like an island
Edited by Jenifer Evans, Nida Ghouse and Malak Helmy
→ A Choreography for a Burning Building
A History of Limits: On the Architecture of Canon Narratives, a 2-day conference to launch Kanon-Fragen 2016-19
19 March 2016
A talk by Malak Helmy and Nida Ghouse, as part of the panel called Limits: Hallucinating the Canon. How can one open up the canon architecture to its anarchic exterior? How can one engage the haunted ontologies of colonial modernity?
The talk takes its cue from Clare Davies’ "Proposal for a dance choreography to be performed at the Royal Opera House", in which a woman, coming to grips with the end of a relationship, burns like a building.
→ Publication Launch: No Fantasy without Protest
With readings by Lina Attalah, Jenifer Evans on behalf of Motaz Attalla, and Philip Rizk.
→ Emotional Architecture: We started by calling it the summer of two fires and a landslide.
The Only Thing Worth Globalizing is Dissent: On Translation and the Many Languages of Resistance, a 3-day conference in Cairo
6 March 2015
Townhouse Library, Cairo
Readings from We started by calling it the summer of two fires and a landslide. and the forthcoming No Fantasy without Protest with Lina Attalah, Motaz Attalla and Philip Rizk.
→ Geografie a confronto
16 July 2013
3:30 to 6:30pm
Presentations by Malak Helmy and Nida Ghouse, Cairo on Emotional Architecture; Frameworks Collective and New Dehli; Luisa Ungar, Cali.
Screening and discussion with Emotional Architecture
6 June 2013
"A Crime Against Art" is a film based on a trial. A trial begins with the assumption that a crime has been committed. Yet the nature of this crime is unclear. The evidence is allusive. No victims have come forward.
While attending the “What is an institution?” meeting at Beirut in Cairo, we encountered a character named the Auditor of Institutional Ethics. For TRIAL / AUDIT, we revisit Hila Peleg's "A Crime Against Art" and invite the auditor to attend the discussion that follows and share his accounts.