isthmus | Summer 2020


“On every side the idea is being relayed. When you awaken an observation, a certainty, a hope, they are already struggling somewhere, elsewhere, in another form.”— Edouard Glissant

Arriving Elsewhere started in April 2019 as a 10-day collective workshop in Wadi Rum, Jordan. Within a desert area that is often used as an ambiguous backdrop for a range of science-fiction, historical, and political films, we came together with a group of ten artists, writers, and filmmakers to consider how we observe and narrate landscapes. Beginning with the premise that a desert is not a blank space or nowhere, we collectively sought to address the political and historical complexity of the location through our direct experience and distinct subjectivities.

Only one year later, in the midst of a global pandemic, it is hard to imagine that kind of proximity with one another was ever possible. As artists, we are being faced with our own privilege and mobility, while also being reminded of the vital need for sharing space and collective experience. Throughout Summer 2020, Arriving Elsewhere continues to ask questions about what it means to share space; this time gathering in an empty virtual room against the backdrop of a pandemic, political unrest, and an uncertain but hopeful future.

—Parastoo Anoushahpour, Faraz Anoushahpour and Ryan Ferko

Arriving Elsewhere was first hosted in April 2019 by Spring Sessions, an experimental learning program and residency based in Amman, Jordan.

Parastoo Anoushahpour, Faraz Anoushahpour and Ryan Ferko have worked in collaboration since 2013. Their shared practice explores the tension of multiple subjectivities as a strategy to address the power inherent in narrative structures. Foregrounding the idea of place as a central focus, their work seeks to both decode their surroundings and trouble the production of images through speculative narration and dialectical imagery. Shifting between both gallery and cinema contexts, recent projects have been presented at Viennale, Punto De Vista International Documentary Festival, New York Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and others internationally.

isthmus is a connection; a site forged between places. This collaborative research commission invites artists whose thinking and work are bolstered by peer exchange and participatory forms of knowledge assembly. Presented on the Mercer Union website using Miro, commissioned projects bridge geographies and temporalities between artists, their collaborators and publics; gathering a multiplicity of voices and artefacts while architecting new connections through virtual workshops, tours, screenings and live conversation.


Image: Parastoo Anoushahpour, Faraz Anoushahpour and Ryan Ferko: Arriving Elsewhere, documentation. Courtesy the Artists. Photo: Kari Rosenfeld.