I Can Only See Shadows

Marissa Lee Benedict and David Rueter (3-channel video, 20:19 min looping, 2016)

Synopsis: This three-channel video is set in a troposphere awash in the byproducts of drilling, digging, fracking, cracking, and burning carbon-based fuels. Clouds of dusty molecules increasingly fill the air, irritating the nose and clogging particle filters: material records of energy histories. Weaving together narratives provided by artists, anthropologists, researchers in the “energy humanities,” and environmental activists, the video projects a parallel world where liquid fossil fuels have been replaced by a new, dominant global energy source: untethered carbon particulate, which doubles as a medium for communication. The sparsely populated world, slowed by the sleepily violent interference of dust, envisions new forms of neoliberal labor where tiny particles are captured, scrutinized, and collected as data. Amidst such an atmosphere, what new modes of resistance and interference might become possible or necessary?

I Can Only See Shadows was originally commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (US) for the exhibition Petcoke: Tracking Dirty Energy (2016) and was produced with contributions by ︎alejandro t. acierto, ︎Jacquelene Drinkall, ︎Liz Ensz, Cameron Hu, Adam Mansour, Juan Luis Olvera, Patrick Quilao, ︎Smart Air (Beijing, CN), and the Southeast Environmental Task Force (Chicago, US).  

Exhibition Space: Lower Gallery, Bin Jelmood House, Msheireb Museums.

The Search for Power

Tania El Khoury and Ziad Abu Rish, Installation (2018)

Synopsis: Aligning with Msheireb’s “Kahraba street” and Doha’s histories of electricity, Tania El Khoury, an artist, and Ziad Abu Rish, a historian, created this experiential exhibition about the history of power outages in Lebanon, delving into the intersection between public utilities infrastructure, people’s relationship to the state, and various popular mobilizations to shape both. The Search for Power is a sound installation of a lecture performance featuring the artist, the historian, and the audience.

On a night with a sudden electricity outage in their Beirut neighbourhood, the artist and her historian husband discussed the history of power cuts in Lebanon. Born during the Lebanese Civil War, the artist had grown up with the understanding that the problem with electricity in Lebanon began during the war. The historian, however, recalled finding a government document dated 1952 that announced scheduled electricity outages across Beirut. The two decided to research the history of power outages in Lebanon, delving into the intersection between public utilities infrastructure, people’s relationship to the state, and various popular mobilizations to shape both. In time, they reach as far back as the introduction of electricity in Beirut before it was even possible to imagine a Lebanese state. In space, they collect documents across Lebanon and beyond its borders, visiting the archives of colonial powers: Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. What they find is a transnational story that locates electricity at the intersection of colonial legacies, the machinations of political and economic elites, and everyday acts of resistance, survival, and sabotage. 

Exhibition Space: Company House Annex, Msheireb Museums.

  • Self-Guided Experience: The exhibition is open all day for a self-guided experience.
  • Guided Experience: For the guided group experience on Saturday, December 9th at 5:15-5:45pm, sign up at registration desks.

Energy on Screen: Short Film Program

  1. Finding Oum Al Ghaith (Documentary, 36 mins, 2023, Jordan) by Bassam Alasad and Abeer Bayazidi. Three women in a drought land before winter solace, contrasting ancient rainmaking rituals and echoing it at the same time while leading their community to save and restore water resources.
  2. Berta Didn’t Die, She Multiplied (10 min, 2017, USA) by Sam Vinal. In Honduras, the most dangerous country in the world to be a land defender, Berta Cáceres’ death has not silenced the many camps fighting for justice and Indigenous Sovereignty. They mourn Berta’s assassination with powerful chants of “Berta Didn’t Die, She Multiplied!”
  3. Canary (Animation, 12 mins, 2022, Canada) by Pierre-Hugues Dallaire and Benoit Therriault. Canary birds are highly sensitive to their environments, often used in mining as an indicator to see if the air was safe to breathe. Young Sonny doesn’t like mining much, and he trains his pet canary to play dead so they can take the day off. A prank that leads to unintentional disaster.
  4. Now You See Us, Now You Don’t (12 mins, 2021, India) by Lakshmi Sharma and Megha Acharya. This documentary examines how factors like gender, caste, religion, and land ownership determine one’s vulnerability to climate change, and especially floods, in India. 
  5. Virtual Voice (7 mins, 2021, Sudan/Qatar) by Suzi Mirgani. This is a satirical review of our times. A self-righteous rant against sources of power. Suzi doll is an ego-warrior, marching to the algorithms of social media. 
  6. The Sky Oscillates Between Eternity and Its Immediate Consequences (Experimental, 18 mins, 2021, Lebanon) by Nadim Choufi. Two protagonists express their desires and the limitations of pursuing them as they live in a vision of a perfect city. From never-ending days that cannot afford them the privacy of the night, to secretly preserving inefficient plants or learning of new shadows of their lovers under different suns, their stories narrate how the control, isolation, and exploitation of time including seasons and organisms’ lifetimes form the blueprint to achieve such flawless futures.
  7. Bottle Cap(Animation, 5 mins, 2022, USA) by Marie Hyon and Marco Spier. Claw-size matters to a fiddler crab, so when a plastic bottle cap stands in for Shelton’s worthless digging claw, he feels powerful, but this kind of glory will come at a horrible cost. 

Q&A with Filmmakers (bios here): 

  • Dale Hudson, New York University Abu Dhabi, Moderator
  • Bassam Alasad & Abeer Bayazidi, Greener Screen.
  • Lakshmi Sharma & Srishti Mehra, Chambal Media.
  • Suzi Mirgani, CIRS, Georgetown University in Qatar.

Screening details: December 9, 2023 at 3-5pm, Screen #5, Novo Cinema, Galleria Mall, Msheireb

Msheireb Walking Tours

Date/Location: December 10, 2023 at 2:15pm, meet at Company House courtyard. Sign up at registration desks.

Tour 1: Msheireb Smart City (75 minute tour)

“What Constitutes a Smart City? Experience a one-of-a-kind journey that unveils the often-hidden smart city elements and infrastructure within Msheireb Downtown Doha. This exclusive tour offers participants a comprehensive look at the city’s cutting-edge smart features both above and below ground. Above ground, the tour showcases the district’s water-cooling tower, its on-site synthetic natural gas farm, the tram depot and its operations, and a smart apartment mockup. Participants will also venture underground, gaining rare access to the inner workings of the city’s impressive infrastructure. Beneath the surface, the tour highlights the city’s underground service tunnels, loading bays, district cooling and the on-site waste separation and management systems. The journey culminates in the command control center, the hub where data from over 650,000 IoT devices and sensors, as well as 10,000 CCTV cameras across the city, are proactively monitored, reported on, and analyzed. This data-driven approach informs and optimizes the city’s operations. Your guides for this unique tour will be the lead engineers of Msheireb Downtown Doha. The tour is a dynamic blend of walking and tram rides.

Tour 2: Mapping Migrations Memories Exhibition (30 minute tour). Exhibition tour guided by Sheikha Alanood Al Thani and Sara AlNaimi.

Headed by Astrid Kensinger, Mapping Migration Memories is a multi-year research project under VCUarts Qatar’s (IN)>TANGIBLE_LAB, that collects memories and oral histories of the biannual Qatari migrations for re-enactments, exhibitions, and cultural production. The exhibition seeks to not only document and preserve the intangible, but to translate and extend Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) through tangible and evocative manifestations. The project explores documentation processes through video, audio, photography, transcription, and translation of living culture. Traditions, festivals, rituals, customs, cuisines, songs, crafts, and games require cultural scholars, designers, artists, and scientists to collaborate together with communities to develop new methods for sustaining and extending ICH and Traditional Knowledge.