“Derailing the Status quo.” A Conversation with Marwa Arsanios about Who’s Afraid of Ideology?


  • Judith Naeff Leiden University
  • Marwa Arsanios Akademie der bildenden Künste


Columbia, ecology, feminism, Lebanon, Kurdistan, Marwa Arsanios, Rojava


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Author Biographies

Judith Naeff, Leiden University

Judith Naeff is Assistant Professor of Cultures of the Middle East at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on contemporary visual culture and literature of the Arab World. This interview is part of her research project Remembering Dissent and Disillusion in the Arab World, funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO projectnumber VI.VENI.191C.002).

Marwa Arsanios, Akademie der bildenden Künste

Marwa Arsanios’ practice tackles structural and infrastructural questions using different devices, forms and strategies. From architectural spaces, their transformation and adaptability throughout conflict, to artist-run spaces and temporary conventions between feminist communes and cooperatives, the practice tends to make space within and parallel to existing art structures allowing experimentation with different kinds of politics. Film becomes another form and a space for connecting struggles in the way images refer to each other. In the past four years Arsanios has been attempting to think about these questions from a new materialist and a historical materialist perspective with different feminist movements that are struggling for their land. She tries to look at questions of property, law, economy and ecology from specific plots of land. The main protagonists become these lands and the people who work them. Her research includes many disciplines and is deployed in numerous collective methodologies and collaborative projects.

Solo shows include: Heidelberger Kunstverein (2023); Mosaic Rooms, London (2022); Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2021); Skuc Gallery, Ljubljana (2018); Beirut Art Center (2017); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2016); Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon (2015); and Art in General, New York (2015). Her work has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions including: Documenta 15 (2022); Mardin biennial (2022); Sydney Biennial film program (2022); 3rd Autostrada Biennale, Pristina (2021); 11th Berlin Biennale (2020); The Renaissance Society, Chicago (2020); Gwangju Biennial (2018); Lülea Biennial (2018); Kunsthalle Wien (2019); 1st Sharjah Architecture Triennial (2019); SF Moma, San Francisco (2019); Warsaw Biennial (2019); 14th Sharjah Biennale (2019); Maxxi Museum, Rome (2017); Ludwig Museum, Cologne (2016); Thessaloniki Biennial (2015); Home Works Forum, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut (2010, 2013, 2015); New Museum, New York (2014); 55th Venice Biennial (2013); M HKA, Antwerp (2013); the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011).

Her films have been screened at MOMA New York (2023); School of Art Institute Chicago (Gene Siskel Film Center) (2023); Cinéma du Réel, Paris (2021); Rotterdam Film Festival (2021); Film Fest, Hamburg (2020); FID Marseille (2015, 2019, 2022); TIFF, Toronto (2019); Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival (2019); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2017); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2011, 2017, 2022); Berlin International Film Festival (2010, 2015). Arsanios was a researcher in the Fine Art Department at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2010–12). She is currently a PhD candidate at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna.