Fehras publishing practices: waiting trajectory, 2017

Fehras publishing practices

Sami Rustom

Omar Nicolas

Kenan Darwich

The movement and circulation of publications along parts of the Hijaz railway can still be perceived from the train station in Damascus, which was built in 1908. Even after the construction of the railway stopped following the first world war, the station still operated until it was transformed into a library and book museum in recent years. The act of transformation and the shift of meaning turned the station into a mobile space for knowledge, not only encompassing the station itself but also the station’s surroundings, where streets of book and paper traders, publishers, and printers come together. Today the area reflects the history of modern publishing in the region and the mechanisms for the circulation, appearance, and disappearance of books. Waiting trajectory reconstructs the station and its surroundings through three personal narratives that enter into dialogue with the music of Al-Rahbani brothers and Fairuz’s musical play Al-Mahata (the station). 

Fehras publishing practices (Sami Rustom, Omar Nicolas, and Kenan Darwich) is an artist collective established in Berlin in 2015. Friendship, memories, and various interests in publishing and publication brought them together, and drove them to establish Fehras publishing practices as a space for knowledge, exchange of experiences, and collective work. the collective is researching the history and presence of publishing and its entanglement in the socio-political and cultural sphere in the eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Arabic diaspora. their work is engaging different methods and ways of production, and it focuses on the relationship between publishing and art historiography. It concerns with the role of translation as a tool facing cultural domination in its traditional and modern forms, as well as a tool for creating solidarity and deconstructing colonial power. Fehras became for them an observatory for publishing strategies and practices in its relation with the political and geographical transformation of the EMNA region. The main component of their work are archival materials such as books, magazines, photographs, memoirs, letters, contemporary art publications, libraries of authors, publishers, translators, book vendors as well as radio, television, cinema, and digital archives. they collect, order, and re-curate these materials by placing them in different spatial and temporal contexts. They observe publishing as a possibility for creating, transferring, and accumulating knowledge. Therefore they initiate projects that carry different forms such as exhibition, film, book, lectures, performances and produce works touch issues they are concerned with like gender, collectivity, identity, migration, and notions of independency, funding, and institutions.