Screening and Conversation: Noor Abed and Tina Sherwell

Join artist Noor Abed in conversation with curator, art historian and educator Tina Sherwell around her film practice and her relationship to mythology, landscape, history and the archive.

The conversation will follow a special screening of Noor Abed’s trilogy of films Penelope (2014), our songs were ready for all wars to come (2021), and A Night We Held Between (2024).

Made over the course of ten years, the three films combine mythology and folklore to imagine new possibilities for the representation and enactment of social formations in Palestine. Together the films can be seen as a historical document from an unknown archive, retrieving a collective memory while connecting us to an imaginary yet to unfold. Working with folk tales, folk songs, and the choreographing of daily movement; the films reclaim an interrupted proximity to the land, to lost rituals, and to the invisible knowledge embedded in the peripheral.

Noor Abed (b.1988) works at the intersection of performance and film. Abed attended the Whitney Independent Study Program in Νew York in 2015-16, and the Home Workspace Program (HWP) at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut 2016-17. Abed’s work has been screened and exhibited internationally at Anthology Film Archives, New York, Gabes Cinema Fen Film Festival, Tunisia, Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, Lagos Biennale, Leonard & Bina Gallery, Montréal, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, Ujazdowski Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, The Mosaic Rooms, London, and MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Art, Rome, among others. In 2020, together with Lara Khaldi she co-founded the School of Intrusions, an independent educational collective in Ramallah, Palestine. Abed was an assistant curator for documenta fifteen, kassel 2021-22.  She is currently an artist in residence at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam 2022-24.

Tina Sherwell is currently Director of Masters of Fine Arts in Art and Media and Visiting Assistant Professor of Art and Art History at NYU Abu Dhabi. She works across art practice, art history, curating and education. Her research focuses on topographies of belonging, home, loss, and exile in the work of Palestinian and Arab artists. Her research interests also encompass visual cultural studies, in particular the role of images in contemporary society. She is currently Associate Professor and Director of Masters of Fine Arts in Art and Media at NYUAD. She was Director of The International Academy of Art, Palestine, (2007-2012 and 2013-2017). She worked on the development of the Faculty of Art, Music and Design for the Board of Trustees of Birzeit University and was Program Head of the BA in Contemporary Visual Art ( 2017-2021).  Previously she was Programme Leader of Fine Art at The Winchester School of Art, UK (2005-2007). Recent curated exhibitions include Intimate Terrains; Representations of a Disappearing Landscape, The Palestinian Museum (2019 ) Degree Show of the International Academy of Art, Palestine (2011-2018), Retrospective of Sliman Mansour, Al Hoash Art Court, East Jerusalem, (2011).  She has undertaken consultancies for UNESCO, Riwaq Conservation Centre, Danish Centre for Culture and Development, British Council and WeWorld GVC and has served on various juries and committees for the arts.


Penelope, 2014
16mm film
4k digital transfer
6 min 28 sec, silent 

Inspired by the Odyssey, Homer’s epic poem from the 7/8th Century BCE, the film looks at the role and relevance of mythology to the present and to the collective imaginary. Centred on a female figure, a representation of Penelope – a character in Homer’s Odyssey and queen of Ithaca – the film uses repetitive gestures to activate the past, and calls up a reality other than that offered by history. 

our songs were ready for all wars to come, 2021
Super 8mm film
4k digital transfer
20 min, sound

Centred around choreographed scenes based on documented folktales from Palestine, the film restages latent stories around water wells and their connection to communal ritual around notions of disappearance, mourning and death. The film explores ‘folklore’ as a source of real knowledge, and its connection to alternative social and representational models in Palestine. The film asks – can ‘folklore’ be used as an accessible emancipatory tool against hegemonic social and historical discourses, and as a way to reclaim history and land in Palestine?  The film’s soundtrack is a lyrical collage of various folktales, performed by Palestinian singer Maya Khaldi. 

A Night We Held Between, 2024
16mm film
4k digital transfer
30 min, sound 

A Night We Held Between takes the ancient tale of the Minoan Labyrinth as historical inspiration, connecting mythology to the present socio-political reality in Palestine. Set in particular ancient sites across Palestine—caves, carved holes, underground passages, and wild valleys—the land, and landscape become the film’s main characters. Timeless haunting scenes evoke that which is lost, forgotten or forsaken, while repetition and ritual connect to ancient gestures related to goddesses, caves and offerings – gestures that connect back to the present and open up spaces for the communal expression of connection to land and culture across time and space. 

Image Credits

Noor Abed
our songs were ready for all wars to come, 2021
Super 8mm film, 4k digital transfer
20 min, sound
Courtesy of the Artist



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