Once upon a time, it was possible to travel by land and sea across Southwest Asia and North Africa. The consequences of colonial domination, past and present, forced displacement, land grabs, political turmoil, capitalist greed, wars and conflicts have turned the region into a set of policed and militarized territories that divide communities, halt their movements, and alienate them from their relations to the land. As capitalist and colonialist world order continue to vigorously extract the land’s natural resources for profit, marginalized communities are made to live under conditions of continued precarity and neglect. Under these circumstances, disability is nowhere and everywhere at the same time. So are access issues…

The stories shown in this exhibition span a rich diversity of everyday experiences to rethink disability and access within the specific histories and localities of the South West Asian/ North African (S.W.A.N.A.) region. Crucially, they are driven by a desire for a borderless region joined by the struggles for justice, survival and liberation.

In a cartographical order, starting from North Africa and specifically from northwest Tunisia, Zied Ben Romdhane introduces us to the living conditions of villagers in the Jenouba region who struggle to access potable water. From there we head to the West of Alexandria in Egypt, where Mohamed Mahdy documents the effects of air pollution generated by a Cement Factory and its threatening consequences on the health of the inhabitants of Wadi El Qamar (Moon Valley). Crossing into Palestine, Razan Alsalah’s Canada Park confronts the relationship between exile and colonialism by recovering three Palestinian villages razed by the Israeli Occupation Forces. Moving east to Jordan, Infertile Crescent by Nadia Bseiso investigates the dry and burnt land of the modern Jordanian map and the environmental impacts man-made borders have had on the environment of this once fertile region. From there we head to Lebanon, where Roï Saade’s project narrates the illegal privatization of the land and sea in Beirut and draws parallels from an ancient epic. Lastly, we arrive in Iraq, where Tamara Abdul Hadi offers a way to reimagine and reclaim narratives of the people and the wetlands of southern Iraq, known as Al-Ahwar.

AIM’s Methodologies of Writing Image Descriptions for the Air, River, Sea, Soil: A History of an Exploited Land Exhibition

As the AIM Lab, we collaborated with each of the participating artists in order to create image descriptions (IDs) for their photographs and videos. In this process, each artist was paired with two AIM members. These groups (of three) met individually, discussed how to write the IDs, and eventually adapted methodologies of their own through this dialogical process.

Since any description – not just ID – is political, the task of writing descriptions requires transparency about how those descriptions were written, by whom, under what conditions, and through what strategies. To be transparent and accountable for the IDs, which we present as a core element of this exhibition, we decided to write our methodologies of creating IDs. On the right side, you will find five pdf files, in which each group explains their own methodology of writing IDs. Enjoy!

Please note that there will be a (hybrid) Artist Roundtable on October 21, 2022 @12.00-13.15
Artists Zied Ben Romdhane - Mohamed Mahdy - Nadia Bseiso - Roï Saade - Tamara Abdul Hadi will be participating in the roundtable.

Access information:
ASL interpretation will be provided.

To attend in person, please come to:

Access in the Making (AIM) Lab, CJ 1.415
Concordia University
7141 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec
H4B 1R6

The most straight forward way to find the AIM lab is to look for the ramp entrance on the south-facing side of the CJ building (the main entrance you see when you walk up to the building from Sherbrooke Street/the 105 bus stop). Follow the ramp or stairs down to the lowest level and continue straight down the hallway and the lab is the big, white space just before the bathrooms.

The AIM Lab space is wheelchair accessible and there are accessible, gender neutral bathrooms on the same floor as AIM.

Masks will be provided at the entry. Masks are required to attend the roundtable in person. To attend online, please register here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.