A Threnody for the Dispossessed is a sixty-foot long screen-printed scroll/accordion-book that impressionistically interweaves the experiences of people displaced by war in the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. Images and experiences flow freely into another, the trails of tear gas morphing into the mists of limbo. A “wailing ode”, a chorus of voices drawn from historical accounts and contemporary interviews accompanies the book, part of an original score by multi-instrumentalist Julius Masri. This piece can be viewed in the Rare Books Collection in McCabe Library at Swarthmore College. The remaining copies are available for purchase through Booklyn.
Abdul Karim Awad, translated by Yaroub Al Obaidi, interviewed by Erik Ruin
Layla Al Hussein, translated by Zubaida Qaissi, interviewed by Eric Ruin
Amaal Alnajjar, translated by Sara Shnati, interviewed by Eric Ruin
Paloma Irizarry voices Joel Morelos, Leticia Ramos, and various anonymous accounts gathered by Tutela Legal, the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission, and the Arizona Sanctuary Defense Fund.
Morgan Fitzpatrick Andrews voices Felix and Lotte Weiniger, Hans Bergas, and Alexander Trocme.
Vanessa Ogbuehi voices Elizabeth Yarnall and a Staff Report on Valentina Radastovec from Sky Island.
All read from “Reply to the Minister Of Justice-Ottawa, from members of the Spiritual Community of Christ of British Columbia, August 31st, 1944”
This work was commissioned as part of the Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary project for Swarthmore College Rare Books Collection in 2018/2019 and exhibited at Swarthmore College McCabe Library, Twelve Gates Arts, the Philadelphia Free Library - Parkway Central and Booklyn.
Photo credits: Husam Al-Obaidi(Photos 4-7 at Swarthmore College and Photos 8-10 at Twelve Gates Arts); Ricky Yanas (Photo 11 at Twelve Gates and Photos 12-13 at Parkway Central Free Library of Philadelphia); Marshall Weber (Photos 14-16 at Booklyn)
Erik Ruin is a Michigan-raised, Philadelphia-based printmaker, shadow puppeteer, paper-cut artist, etc., who has been lauded by The New York Times for his “spell-binding cut-paper animations.” His work oscillates between the poles of apocalyptic anxieties and utopian yearnings, with an emphasis on empathy, transcendence and obsessive detail. He frequently works collaboratively with musicians, theater performers, other artists and activist campaigns. He is a founding member of the international Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, and co-author of the book Paths Toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism (with Cindy Milstein, PM Press, 2012).
Julius Masri is a Philadelphia based multi instrumentalist, and a performer/composer for the city’s dance community at large. His music focuses on improvisatory methods and syncretic/linguistic exchanges within various musical languages including Jazz, Metal, Afro-Cuban, Experimental Noise, and Arabic music. Born in Tripoli, Lebanon, he moved to the States in 1990 and picked up drumming a year later. He studied with Philadelphia instructors Carl Mottola, Elaine Hoffman-Watts, and as an undergraduate at Bard College, with AACM’s Thurman Barker, Richard Teitelbaum, and Joan Tower. Julius plays drums, circuit modified Casio keyboards, Oud, Kamancheh (aka Rabab, Spike Fiddle), and various other instruments. He currently performs in groups such as grind/crust metal band Night Raids, free jazz groups Sirius Juju and Dromedaries, experimental rock band Van Sutra, trombone and synth duo Superlith, and more. He has performed with such crucial musicians as Henry Grimes, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Thurman Barker, members of the Sun Ra Arkestra.