Joumana Altallal is an Iraqi-Lebanese poet, educator, and Zell Fellow at the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writers' Program. Her work explores her family's journey fleeing Iraq, their arrival to Charlottesville, and the subsequent loss of family archives.
For her Fellowship at New City Arts in May 2021, Joumana will use performance, installation, and poetry to center the experience of breath-loss in Iraq, particularly in relation to the respiratory injuries sustained by protestors in the October Revolution of 2019. Following an occupation of major city squares by makeshift tents erected by the people, these protestors called for resistance against a weak government, illegitimate militia control, and a continued occupation by external powers. These tents quickly became safe havens from COVID-19 as they were used, among other things, as initial testing sites by protesting medical staff, while also serving as spaces of regulated social gathering.
Joumana’s work will blend the sonic elements of poetry (experienced as a performance of breath) together with a recreation of the space of the October revolution in an ode to Iraq’s futurity and culminate in a fellowship exhibition at Welcome Gallery called WHAT TERROR from May 23-27, 2021.
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