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Chewing With Political Teeth

Solo Exhibition at Gemaal Op Zuid | December 2022- February 2023

Group exhibition at Garage Rotterdam | April - July 2023

Exhibition showcasing ongoing research "Famine and Hunger strike: Decolonizing the Digestive."

Constituting two sides of the same coin, famine and hunger strikes render the digestive system another political site of struggle. While famines are a top-down force often engineered by governments to subordinate their people, hunger strikes are a bottom-up form of individual resistance often undertaken by political prisoners as a last resort for claiming their rights. 

The Digestive is Political

Diana Al-Halabi installation view at Garage Rotterdam

"Chewing with Political Teeth" , Fruit leather aprons - installation view at Garage Rotterdam | Photo by Aad Hoogendoorn

The question of preservation is foregrounded in this piece, feeding into the notion of food security, the domestic, the public, and the political. Who is able to preserve food beyond its season? Why do we preserve food? Is preservation a result of surplus or is preservation a fear-taming method? 


Informed by Lebanon's long-standing practice of mulberry farming, this piece uses mulberry fruit leather as a means of memorializing the Great Famine of Mount Lebanon. Prior to the famine (1915-1918), mulberry trees covered 80% of Mount Lebanon’s terraces, which resulted in the emergence of monoculture silk farming and the accumulation of increasing debt on the part of peasants seeking to keep up with the capitalist trade of silk in Europe, particularly in France. Due to the lack of cultivation of other crops (e.g. lentils and burghul), the blockade imposed by Allied forces during WWI resulted in a famine that killed more than 200,000 people. For the next twenty years, post-famine Lebanon was placed under the French Mandate.


Diana Al Halabi apron

"Chewing with Political Teeth" , Fruit leather aprons - installation view at Garage Rotterdam | Photo by Aad Hoogendoorn

Criticizing the omnipresent notion in the West that famines are a thing of the past, this project provides a visual translation of the direct and indirect relationship between politics and war, on the one hand, and the digestive system, on the other. With the ongoing famine in Yemen (circa 2016), increasing effects of climate change, a neocolonial strategy of sanctions whose only victims are peoples (instead of governments) across the Global South, and the current outcome of Russia’s war against Ukraine (inflation and insufficient global supply of wheat in particular) we are witnessing the crucial role that food security will play in both the present and the future.

Diana Al Halabi artist installation fruitleather aprons

"Chewing with Political Teeth" , Fruit leather aprons - installation view at Garage Rotterdam | Photo by Aad Hoogendoorn

The Last Supper or a Class in History

9 GemaalopZuid_WP3_2022_photo by Lavinia Xausa.jpg

"The Last Supper or a Class in History" - exhibition view at Gemaal op Zuid-  Film 13'| 2022 Photo by Lavinia Xausa

Excerpts from the film


Sir Minster, what do you prefer us to call you? Sir? or Minster? Or your highness?

Since the last time you visited, nothing has changed in this house, except, this time we are more prepared for your visit. I saved a seed from each envelope to feed you, I raised the table from the ground to fit your highness.

Sir minster last time you visited we realized that the ceiling was too low and the door was too narrow. They speak of the elephant in the room when something isn't being said. But sir Minster you looked like that elephant in the room last time you visited. But don't worry sir Minster we demolished the ceiling and now your limit is your highness.


As we have been always late for history, we are curious sir minister, how did you manage to communicate with the future? If what Orwell said was true, then it is of its nature impossible to do so. He said either the future resembles the present in which case it won’t listen to you, or it would be different from it and your predicament would be meaningless.


To communicate to the future sir minister is to come back to us with a self-fulfilling prophecy, but in such a day like this one, a self-fulfilling prophecy could be a class fulfilling one.  Because as far as I know doomsday in old English meant the day-dag of the judgment, where a law, decision, a sentence is made. And, here, allow me your highness to ask you a question that holds the answer in it, who usually passes laws, takes decisions, and issue sentences? The one who sowed or the one who harvested or the one who accumulated?


Diana Al-Halabi digestive is political installation famine and hunger strikes
film  famine and hunger strikes

Still shots from "The Last Supper or a Class in History" - Film 13'| 2022

*This project is supported by CBK O&O research and development  grant 2022-2023

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