2022 | Ahmad BaBa
Ilk عِلْقْ : A Queer Arab Dichotomy
As a term, Queerness does not exist in Arabic. However, it does and did exist as a practice, one that goes back further than the “queerness” that Western hegemony imposed on the globe. So why are we expected to identify with a “queerness” that we had no power in creating? How can we speak the language of queerness when our own languages, terms, expressions are trapped within and abbreviated into an international queer (English) language? How are we pressured into partaking in the norms of acceptable “queerness”? What are the costs of not fitting into these norms, and how can we counter this regulatory and disciplinary function of queerness at our current historical moment?
‘Ilk is an attempt to engage with these questions. It is an investigation into how queerness has become a form of colonialism erasing, and homogenizing many identities and ways of being that don’t necessarily fit under it as an umbrella term, but are nonetheless drawn to it due to the lack of taxonomies and terms that signify and encompass collective queer existences in their own contexts. Ilk is also a way of tracing the roots of queer practices that go back centuries in Arab and Muslim societies.
Ahmad draws inspiration for the performance elements from manuscripts such as Adab al-jins ‘inda al-‘Arab (The Erotic Writings of the Arabs) and Nuzhat Al-Albab Fima La Yujad Fi Kitab (A Promenade of the Hearts) by Amazigh poet, writer, and anthologist Ahmad Al tifashi (1184-1253 A.D). Inspired by the name of the book “A Promenade of the Hearts” – this performance presents a promenade of questioning what we knew, and what we know, and what is still to come.
This performance is supported by Goethe-Institut Cyprus.
Ahmad BaBa (direction and performance) is a Lebanese theater / dance performer, social artist and master’s student in dance-movement therapy who lives in Berlin. His performances are mainly ritualistic, political dance movement pieces that revolve around questioning lifelong research on “what is a queer Arab identity (s)?”, stereotyping, orientalism, fetishization in connection with his own personal immigration history.
Mansur Ajang (assistant direction) is a performer, director and coach working with marginalised communities in Berlin. One focus of his work is theatre productions with long-term unemployed people that unleash the potential of people in social and economic circumstances through artistic creativity. He was trained at the Elisabethbühne of the Schauspielhaus in Salzburg. Ilk is his second production with the performance artist Ahmad Baba.
Other Works by the Artist: