ABOLISH LANGUAGE – a talk by the Society of False Witnesses (with JESSIKA LEOBAULDINE KHAZRIK)

Wednesday March 9th 2016 at 11:30 | DARC 206

co-sponsored by CDAR, DANM and Film + Digital Media

At the turn of the 11th Century, polymath Ibn El Haitham believed that he could stop the chronic flood of the Nile River through mathematics and the sun. Commissioned by the king of Egypt to travel therein and apply his project, Ibn el Haitham failed to concretize a solution, so after 4years of experiment and research, he deemed his project impossible to realize with the present advancements in knowledge and mechanics. In order to flee with his life and not be decapitated, he feigned madness — accused himself of being a false witness and was in turn exiled and held for 11 years under house arrest. In this house turned prison turned mental institution turned exile turned camera obscura, El Haitham wrote his philo-scientific treatise “The Book of Optics” and inaugurally inhabited in his detainment the entoptic space that would be later known as the laboratory. Now born on the internet and having recently joined The Society of False Witnesses, Ibn El Haitham invites the audience to look together at forthcoming research spaces and recent projects by the society.


The Society of False Witnesses is an indisciplinary platform launched by Jessika Khazrik in December 2014 and currently operating from the Art, Culture and Technology program at MIT. Through occupying disciplines in collaborations, writing, performance, cryptography and learning, The Society of False Witnesses probes and plays with the spatial politics of exile, the underground, the internet and the battlefield and their epistemological repercussions on the performance and lexica of ignorance and knowledge. Their work include the performance “The First Repository” (Beirut Art Center – Beirut 2015), the dance performance “Instead of a Turret on Top” (ICA – Boston, 2015), the exhibition “Content and Danger” (Edgerton Center – Boston, 2015), the radioplay “I Hate the Past but It Seduces Me” (The Lebanese Broadcasting Station – Beirut, 2016) and the sound essay “D B B D” (Forum Expanded, ADK – Berlin, 2016).


Jessika Leobauldine Khazrik (The Society of False Witnesses) was born in Beirut or Baghdad in 1991 and is currently based in Boston. She studied Theatre and Linguistics at the Lebanese University, and was a participant in 2012-13 in“ Home Workspace Program” at Ashkal Alwan. Ranging across several disciplines, media and geographies, her work investigates the correlation between truth and testimony in art, science and the law. Her projects include The Influence of Prostitution on Tourism (2013), Flying City in the Aerial Paths of Communication (2013), My Body If Only I Could See You (2014), and the ongoing Blue Barrel Grove (2014-). She also collaborates with artists and collectives as writer, performer and translator as well as organizes political parties. Her work was performed/exhibited in Aley, Aix-en-Provence, Beirut, Bern, Mannheim, Montemor-o-Novo and New York.

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