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Adania Shibli: We Want to Play


How can play and cunning manifest themselves privately and publicly as tenable measures for challenging oppression and countering tyranny, exploitation and deep inequality? This talk by Adania Shibli identifies instances where play and cunning are both put into practice as means to dupe a state apparatus and its systematic application of violence.

Shibli places special focus on the contemporary Palestinian context, drawing on her own experiences. She argues that Palestinians are increasingly relying on play—including staged plays—and acting in their everyday life and daily movement, in order to retain their existence where it is threatened by the Israeli settler state and its subordinate Palestinian authority.  

Adania Shibli is a writer and cultural researcher focusing on the history of vision in Arabic culture, as well as political and social realities. Her novels, plays, short stories and narrative essays have been published in various anthologies, art books, and literary and cultural magazines. Her most recent books include Tafsil Thanawi (translated as Minor Detail, Beirut, al-Adab, 2016), A Journey of Ideas Across: In Dialogue with Edward Said (Berlin, HKW, 2014), and Dispositions (Ramallah, Qattan Publications, 2012).

Shibli was awarded the Young Writer’s Award by the A.M. Qattan Foundation in 2002 and 2004. Since 2013 has been teaching at the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Studies at Birzeit University, Palestine. Her recent curatorial projects include After the Wildly Improbable at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (2017).

This event is part of a series titled We Want Everything, programmed by Dr Stephen Wilson in collaboration with the ICA. The series is staged in collaboration with the ICA and the Chelsea, Camberwell and Wimbledon College of Arts postgraduate community. We Want Everything asks us to recognize the meaning of art and human life regardless of economic flows.

Given the neoliberal conditions we find our future-selves contending with, this public series of events explores human prerequisites such as citizenship, agency and the permission to experience any emotions. In an unstable field of bio-political inequalities, unconscious bias, data technologies, happiness industries and isolation, how do art and design practices maintain their love of complexity and deviation under the auspices of increased atomization?  

In collaboration with UAL, Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon