The Setting of Noon

(A collaboration w/ Jumana Manna)

After the workplace had been nested, and employees sent home to the glow of bluescreens and moonlight, the office became an abandoned site. They revisited the glasshouse cubicles that had once separated co-workers, and quelled unruly vegetation. The agricultural lands once surrounding the building had turned into forests of rebar stems. They began planning for a future that was thought to have come and gone. They looked to ancient artefacts and survivor insects for clues to decipher their present ailments, to disentangle their inherited back pain, to unlearn decades of bad office posture. They reinvented sacrificial practices to conjure rain, fertility, fortune, and erected scarecrow talismans to ward off pestilence and tribulation. They gathered by the water coolers, claiming that sociality always coalesced on the banks of sweet water bodies.

From headquarters windowless like casinos, like IKEA, like Mission Control, forces mobilized against them, synchronizing all things. From outer space to desktops, and from toxic assets to trading floors, distinctions between lived and real time were being eroded. And so, they countered by mobilizing the night: nocturnal taxi drivers, street vendors, graveyard shift cleaners. They deployed machine commands of their own, communicating via tickers and video signals, with hardware collected from the market under the bridge. We are fossils of energy, they said, we are liquid. We are thinking, feeling substance. Restricting our mobility cannot stop our circulation.

 Haig Aivazian + Jumana Manna (excerpt from the text read at the opening night)

Ashkal Alwan,
Beirut, LB