The List Visual Arts Center at MIT opened an exhibition with the artist duo Basel Abbas and Rouanne Abou-Rahme. The multimedia installation that is exhibited, titled Only sounds that tremble through us, is part of the ongoing project May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth initiated in 2010 that is presented in distinct segments.

Abbas and Abou-Rahme are known for utilizing multiple media in their long-term projects as a means of underscoring the themes of collectivity, resilience and memory that are integral to Arab resistance to colonial oppression. The duo, since initiating the project, has gathered a total of 170 videos online which record people singing and dancing in communal spaces in Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Yemen. Where the freedom of movement of people in these countries has been hindered due to the ravages of war, which have partitioned off the land with walls and checkpoints, it is the sound of music and dance which can transcend these artificial obstacles that have been imposed upon these fractured communities.

Only sounds that tremble through us (2020-2022) represents a recent addition to this project, in which Abbas and Abou-Rahme seek to expand on the archival material they have gathered throughout the years. Combining dissimilar footage that overlaps, the myriad of images creates a disconcerting and captivating visual symphony. By rendering the collected footage in the negative, the artists deliberately maintain a veil of mystery around the identity of the protagonists, thereby rejecting a representational perception of this collective wound for one that is grounded in a living, embodied experience.

Only sounds that tremble through us is on display at the MIT List Visual Arts Center through July 28, 2024. More detailed information can be found at the museum site here and at Abbas and Abou-Rahme's site.

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