In the mid-20th Century, forms of the “Third World” as seen in Movement for Afro-Asian Unity, pan Africanism, the Nonaligned Movement, and others, imagined transnational forums where the global South could reconfigure planetary leadership, ending Euro-American control. Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017), premiered at documenta 14, is a three-channel fragmentary history of 1973, a high point in this fever dream, but also the moment when it started coming apart from internal mistakes and external forces.
Pivoting around the 1973 Nonaligned Movement (NAM) meeting in Algiers, and its ideological opposite in the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting at Lahore in 1974, the film travels through the many warring tentacles of the “new” cold war, and the contradictions of decolonization movements that neglected to liberate their own leadership. Sweeping over the residues of transnational architecture (Niemeyer, Moretti, Le Corbusier, and, finally, an anonymous Chinese company) in New York, Algiers, Dhaka, and in conversation with Vijay Prashad, Samia Zennadi, Atef Berredjem, Amirul Islam, and Zonayed Saki, the film explores the buried tensions between forces vying for leadership of the “Third World.” It proposes that the utopian hope of the Third World project failed not only because of external enemies, but also the fatal mistake of a 1970s pivot from Socialism to Islamism (wrapped around pan Arabism) as unifying ideology.
Naeem Mohaiemen combines films, installations, and essays to research failed left utopias, incomplete decolonizations, and tragic misrecognition of allies– framed by Third World Internationalism and World Socialism. The protagonists, inhabiting a doomed masculinity, are in “a revolutionary past meaningful in the sudden eruption of a revolutionary present” (Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, Bidoun). His work is currently on view in the solo show There is No Last Man at Museum of Modern Art (PS1) in New York.
Naeem first presented in Beirut as a member of Visible Collective (Disappeared in America) at Homeworks 3 (2005), followed by screenings at 98 Weeks, Mar Mkayel Nahr (2011), Mansion, Zoqaq el-Blatt (2015), Homeworks 7 (2015), and most recently at Tamawuj, Sharjah Biennial 13, Act II, Ashkal Alwan (2017). His research at Arab Image Foundation on Bangladeshi “volunteers” for the PLO resulted in the short film Abu Ammar is Coming (2016). His essays include “Islamic roots of Hip-Hop” (Sound Unbound, 2004), “Traitors, a Mutable Lexicon” (e-flux Supercommunity, 2015), “Anabasis of the Japanese Red Army” (e-flux journal, 2015), “Mohammed Ali’s Bangladesh Passport” (New Inquiry, 2016), and “Loneliness of the Long Distance Campaign” (Assuming Boycott/Walker Art Center, 2017).
Two Meetings and a Funeral was commissioned by documenta 14, co-commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation and Ford Foundation (Just Films), with additional support by Arts Council (UK). Courtesy of the artist and Experimenter (India).