What is We Insist

WE INSIST is an art research project of Mia Habib (Norway), Rani Nair (Sweden) and Jassem Hindi (France). Together we produce performances, installations, videos, sound pieces, texts and other types of publications.

"Just by practicing a language, we are pushing it towards a foreign language we don't know yet. By using it over and over again, we are making it become something else than it used to be a second before. A language is condemned to die if it does not transmute into a new language." F.de Saussure, Cours de linguisitique générale

Together we work and insist on a space that is always fading if not practiced, a common land that cannot exist if not paced back and forth, if not repeated over and over again, if not shared with others.

We started to work on identity as a crisis, as a tension, and not as a stable concept. This project is about looking at how, through sound and body language, we can question and practice this identity, understood as an unstable nomadic state, crossed over by a multiplicity of tensions and traversed by layers of intensities. How does identity maintains itself, how does it transmute? How does it sometimes make us slip into madness or void, into frenetic tautological repetition of our self or into an abyss of difference between us and the rest of the world?


WE INSIST Marrakech. On Marche... festival.
This performance in Marrakech is dedicated to the loving memory of Sanna Miericke.
Preparation time in 3 steps:

And now, on for the show !

We Insist / On Marche from volante on Vimeo.Video courtesy of http://onmarche5.over-blog.com/. Video by: Héléna Inverno & Veronica Castro.

Thank you for the video.


OSLO performance ... to be continued

Please watch the video directly on you tube in full screen mode by double clicking on the video.


Hap and Malou Bergman

The starting point for our work in Stockholm was to explore our black box performance, from the House of Dance Oslo 4-8 November, by moving it to a new terrotory. To try to relocate or even dislocate our work into the white gallary space of Hammarby Art Port on 11, 12 and 14 of November in Stockholm.

This text was written using the self-interview technique from everybodys toolbox (http://www.everybodystoolbox.net/) . It was first written in English, then automatically translated using Google Translation into Norwegian, which was translated into French, which was translated into Swedish and then back into English again.


Hi, how are you?

What would you do?

Well, I must write a report about our latest projects, Art Porter at Hammarby in Stockholm.

OK, what's the problem?

Well, I thought about how to write a report. And who do I write? And it got me thinking about a performance by Meg Stuart. When we were here the whole "We stress team black box" (Mia, Jassem, Rani and Ingeborg Riksteatern we practice in Stockholm earlier in October) we went to see House Meg Stuart and damaged goods dance. We got free tickets to Anja Müller as we know from the sweet and tender and Alexander Jenkins, who we met in Mexico.

OK, it was a lot of name dropping ....

OK, yes, it was important that they are our friends because the results challenged my perspective on performance. I saw Anja right before, and it is a very strong dancer and she had a big role in the show. Aleks and I had only briefly met in Mexico and it was great that surprised me in how he plays on stage. It was good that they gave me tickets, they are expensive ...

But why are you telling Meg Stuart?

Yes, it was not intended to be a part of history. I think I have come to think of her because she has actually seen our first public sharing of Porto, in August last year before our first performance which took place at the Gothenburg Opera. So now that we had just finished our performance in the black box to the House of Dance in Oslo, I came to think of his performance in another House of Dance in Stockholm. And when it took place last year at a place called 555 in Porto, who actually looks at Gallery Art Porter Hammarby. She is really constructive feedback and was able to improve and challenge ourselves, together. She really supported.

What I am saying is, how it was strange that at the dinner afterwards at a very nice, but not so glamorous kitchen in the House of Dance in Stockholm. Artistic director was not there so I assume that the task of creating a voice for sportsmen and women have fallen for each actor. She tried to raise a toast to the performance, but it was so strange because it means Meg Stuart and damaged goods, services, instead she made a public review and concluded that it was a good result, because the public had been good, and laughs. Very unpleasant to hear.

I thought to exert Hammarby Art Porter, I can not evaluate our results, but the parameters around us, the public by example.

OK, what do you say to the audience?

They were great. I was really glad to meet with the public and hear their answers. The first evening we had a group of architects and they were eager to speak for and to share reflections on our results. They passed our treatment of space in his work with architecture and comment on the use of the black son of the white cube, as if we were to paint in black ink on white paper. Together, we have tried to resolve any confusion or concern.

Was it different from how you talk to others?

Yes and no. Discussions and conversations with the public was an integral part of our work processes, in Damascus, Porto, Gothenburg, and so on. But the contrast to be in this room right now, compared with the week before when we were in a black box, was really strong. After some initial struggling with how to treat the space of traditional theater, black box with their repressive structure, we have found a way to work in the room and do something we felt really proud. So just when we had conquered a place, we are thrown into a different situation. What was difficult for us in the theater room with the traditional view of the finished products are presented on stage was not present, instead of the second edition appeared in the white cube, others have distanced themselves, others technical, production support of others to be back in a white cube space, other structures, other borders, power relations, tensions on the second floor, etc.

A people who I know have commented on the formation of the audience thought it was a lot of people that if they do not recognize. One woman was so happy to see that she knew few people in the audience, who said, almost never happened in stockholm dance scene, "she says.

So you say you had a good audience?

I did not formulate this way. I think we managed to get the audience in our work in a way that suggests a new perspective. I thought they were open to our work. We continue our practice. Our results and published lecture realized that part of the program, which meant a shift from a focus on process-oriented work again. I think it's also partly because of its location, space Hammarby Porter Contemporary Art, a gallery run by artists, they show sensitivity to other performers and the audience they attract. And of course, Modern Dance Theater, they have really supported us and what we would do and what we felt the need to do. Not many theaters will book a show that has not seen, or actually before the show even exists, and not much structure to make room for exploration. In a way we've changed totally my idea of what to do.

What do you do, do not go with what you have said?

Anyway, we did exactly what we have to schedule it had happened differently.

We were interested in the track after a while. When we come to a new location, we ask and what traces we leave tracks that we carry with us, and how can we share? We have mainly worked on this by collecting documents, images, videos, such as collecting an archive. This time we wanted to work on the track over time, during the three days we were performing at Hammarby Art Porter.

Yes, I remember that I read in the program, each week make a new work every night, it would be different.

Hammarby Art Porter or HAP is led by a group or artists, so we wanted to challenge our work with them, which we did. We do not anticipate that there would be a significant change, with a delay in the process.

Our primary contact and partner with PAH were Malou Bergman and with it, we have continued to explore some of our materials that we call "the details of violence," it means, cables, microphones, touch, sound and body The material we have mainly dealt with statues in the room and the tension in them and the relations between the two.

In collaboration with Malou and her work with the camera, you can explore different perspectives by going to "Setup", and among the statues, zoom in on details. But it's time for video work, it has a different pace as we had expected.

So what did you do?

We worked together every day, and sometimes Malou also worked at night and during the last evening when the show into a party regarding the performance, projected trace of our co-operation on the walls, the work our work. We have sown the seeds of the work that will really take shape after our departure.

When do you think it will be ready?

It's super frustrating to see yet, and do not know where or when it is finished. But both consistent with the work, we require infiltration of the art of other peoples, chameleons and supply of equipment in the hands of other artists. Interesting to see how we carry out this work with us. Perhaps a plant? We talked about the increase in Tromsø!




Things not to forget.

the name of the lady form Serbia. Or was it Croatia?

Her daughters. I still have a picture of them. And a recording of her voice.

Here are the three little girls from long lost Yugoslavia stranded in the middle of nowhere (we’ll get back to this). But they speak the local language (Norwegian).

The Afghan ladies crossing the streets of Vadso. Dresses covering them in blue.

the bar. the cold. the starry nights. the cold again. the walks. the horizon. the isolation. The blue waters and perfect sand beaches on the edge of Europe, by minus 5 in the end of summer.

What i remember.

In the small town of Vadso, far far north. Where they burned over 300 witches in less than a century (I’m probably exaggerating, it would have probably taken them a couple of centuries to find so many god fearing women to burn in such a deserted place). Near Vardo, facing Russia, where the Komintern sent their people to take political courses. Used to be called little Moscow. Then they had a fishing factory. But it closed. They preferred to can their products in China. They have a telescope though. A huge aluminum balloon on this moon-like landscape. A place where, during the terrible winters, some men lived in caves carved in the cliffs along the North Sea - eating dry bread and drinking vodka, while spying on German boats. Some even lived under hull of boats for months, hiding from the nazis. We took a picture next to one of those house-boats.

The lady’s story.

Because she was the “stranger”, probably not here for long; and she was assumed to be linked to no one who knew them, they talked. People were not afraid to confide to her. Their private life, how they cheated on their wives, or how they hated our performance (which was happening in the next room), or how it simply bored them. They talked with confidence to the lady with a strange dress (she had chosen something golden, or maybe silver, something very baroque, very music hall). She also had lipstick. I remember the contrast. meeting her for the first time in this freezing abandoned pub, we were all sitting on dirty chairs next to the heater. She - 40, 45 years old, talking about her terrible life with a smile, with a kind of indifference to her own suffering, her family scattered across Europe. What the people didn’t know is that she and her daughters, tricking them into pouring their hearts out, were actually recording everything. I remember her face when she gave me back the cassette recorder.

Images of Iran.

Sima was with us, and that was at the same exact moment of the demonstrations in Iran. We showed that. In the ruined kitchen. The streets of Teheran filmed with cell phones, projected on a wall in Vadso. The confusion, the shouts, the blood, the police, the smoke, the violence. And i don’t know really what happened for the people who saw this. I don’t know what it is we did then.

Things i choose not to tell.

Things i want to keep assembled, even if they do not match.

I want to hold them together, the same way we made things that were so different in our performance hold together (the images of iran, the dancing on the floor with blinding lights, the string which people played with, making a huge net around the empty bar, the room for secrets, the gas barrels barring the room in two, the recordings of Moroccan voices).

Iran and the silent look of the good people of Vadso.

The impossibility to comment. To argue, to adjudicate.

A peripheral world holding on to another peripheral world. People from the outskirts, stranded: off the boat from Afghanistan, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania... Nothing exotic. This is not even the dust-colored camps of Somalia or the long walk of refugees through the green hills of Congo-Kinshasa. This is just the waiting zone.

But the little girls started to speak Norwegian, and to play football. One of them is not in the pictures.

They did feel comfortable with the WE INSIST nonsense, they understood that feeling of having to grab what is left, and hold on to it, make it play and make sense out of it.

I have been longing to hear their voices again ever since that night.

Oh yes and i remember that when everything was over, we almost set fire to the bar because of forgotten candles.




We Insist was invited by Gilad Ben Ari and with the support of PRISMA FORUM mexico to work in mexicali on the border between USA and Mexico.

Here is a text by Julio Torres about what he saw in it.

"The mirror was there, in front of our eyes. At first it looked like a hole, but when we saw what it was reflecting, its content became a reiteration of our reality, the reality in our side. Against the work, we were exposed to witness a wonderful game of perception and with diverse readings. Two dimensions came together at the act of watching. The first dimension was at the stage were the installation was placed: the borderline, the sky, the wires, and the light. The overall picture. The second one consisted in the particular picture held in every one of the more than 30 mirrors that were arranged as a mosaic that was the central part of the piece. The fragmented and the specific reality.

The space repeated itself over and over, like a multiplicity of our image, and every tree, house, wire, and floor, which peacefully adorned the background behind us. For a moment it was possible to imagine that the primordial sense of the piece was no other than to serve as a strange and restless decoration. Nevertheless, the work of dancers Mia Habib, Rani Nair and sound artist Jassem Hindi, proposed precisely something more complex. It insisted that we can never forget about that territory, that we should constantly think about our condition through our limits and borders. It looked as if they were telling us that the wall was a nothing but a reminder of our everyday life: The wall is there, and all of us are here, persisting, crossing and contemplating daily, we are being constrained into a territory, an unchangeable political and cultural limitation. Finally, the acknowledgement that the life here is as important meaningful and unique as the lives on the other side.

For each mirror, we are a lot of pieces, because we understand that the reality is not just one only, and sure it is personal and untransferable, but it can also be shared. Then, what happens here does not just stays here, it crosses the boundaries or we keep it with ourselves when we cross this constant traffic space we call border.

The mirrors were there."

Julio Torres is a photograph and an artist based in Mexicali.