Arabic Science Fiction: a Frontier of (Im)Possibilities is a roundtable conversation that took place between Darine Hotait, Fadi Baqi, Yazan al-Saadi and Rachel Dedman at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, in May 2015. The conversation was organised as part of the public program of Space Between Our Fingers, an apexart exhibition curated by Rachel Dedman that brought together artists imagining and challenging outer space and science fiction, from Lebanon, Palestine, Algeria, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. Halcyon, the expanded research exhibition concerning science fiction that Rachel is curating for the Transart Triennale, is an extension of this project.
The discussion attempted to go beyond questions such as 'does science fiction exist in the Arab world?' and considered instead issues surrounding sci-fi’s critical potential, its experimentation with Arabic as a language, and the power of the genre's marginal status, within a regional context.
About the Contributors:
Rachel Dedman is a curator and writer based in Lebanon. Following the 2015 exhibition of which this conversation was part, she is curating Halcyon, an expanded research exhibition exploring contemporary science fiction, as part of the Transart Triennale, Berlin, 2016.
Darine Hotait is a writer and filmmaker from Lebanon, based in New York. Her short film ORB, a science fiction film, is in pre-production following a successful crowd-funding campaign on Zoomaal.
Fadi Baqi is a founding member of the Samandal comic collective; he’s a comic book artist, a motion graphics animator and a filmmaker. His current work, Manivelle: Memories of the Man of Tomorrow, is a science fictive film and animation in production at the moment.
Yazan al-Saadi is a writer and researcher with broad interests from pop culture to politics and sociology. Yazan’s article, published in al-Akhbar, on the histories and legacies of science fiction in the Arab world contributed to the kickstarting of this conversation and project.