Arts & Humanities Campus News

Book of poems considers the cultural nuances of the private-versus-public paradox

In “cue,” Siwar Masannat wrestles with intimacy and distance through a collection of poems. Through these poems, Masannat maps environmental relations and poses questions about privacy and visibility, love and family, gender, and ecological agency.

Masannat responds to artist Akram Zaatari’s excavation of studio portraits by Hashem El Madani. El Madani’s photographs are living artifacts of a transnational modernity captured between the 1940s and the 1970s in the Lebanese town of Saida. These photographs archive performances of gender and romance that seek to circumvent respectability politics.

Masannat’s “cue” communes with and retransmits the photographs and their stories with the speaker’s understanding of how visibility may be co-opted and how privacy is unevenly enjoyed, opportunistically deployed, and systematically encroached upon.