The Ten Murders of Josephine is a long-term project by artist Rana Hamadeh, structured through an exhibition, an operatic production, a publication and a film. Drawing on historian Saidiya Hartman and poet Fred Moten’s writings, Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, Kafka’s Josephine, interpretations of Quranic exegesis and Arabic modal musical scales, the project proposes a particular dramaturgy of research that culminates in the realization of an Opera on stage but also becomes an ecosystem that negotiates its own operatic conditions (performative, spectacular, labor processes) on an ongoing basis.
Inherited from the genre of legal spectacle in part, and from Hamadeh's claim that views justice as the ‘measure to which one can access theatre’, The Ten Murders of Josephine brings forth a new intuition: a distinction between the workings of ‘testimony’ and the constitution of a possible 'testimonial subjecthood’ - a discourse that relates the phonic to notions of property, labour, legality, governmentality, documentality, o/aurality and theatre. In Hamadeh's investigation, which asks, what it means to emerge as a ‘testimonial subject’, not only outside the bounds of the court of law, but even more so, in place of the legal subject, the testimonial becomes a catalyst that sets up the conditions for vacating our legally constituted bodies; a medium for unlearning citizenship. Through these interlocutors the phonic materiality of 'testimonial utterance’ is explored as the condition of all that is irrational, unspeakable and unutterable.
The project is preluded by a closed study-group, Sisters in Crime: Murdering Josephine, comprised of an invited assembly of readers from different fields and practices and will conclude with the release of a publication in 2018.
The Ten Murders of Josephine is commissioned by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam. Co-commissioned by MacM, Ming Contemporary Art MuseuM, Shanghai. Co-produced by A.P.E (Art Projects Era) and Productiehuis Theater Rotterdam.