“Come, contemplate these frightful ruins,
This wreckage, these shreds, these unfortunate cinders”
Accourez, contemplez ces ruines affreuses,
Ces débris, ces lambeaux, ces cendres malheureuses
—Voltaire, “Poem on the Lisbon Disaster” (Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne), 1756
At the end of a two-week residency at Darat al Funun in Amman, Jordan, I’m delivering a lecture and visual performance called “Performative Ground,” which takes its name from a photographic series being developed in Palestine.
I’m formulating connections between the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, the devastation of Gaza, the arbitrary nature of survival, friends and enemies, nature un-naturalized, and the transitory and vulnerable quality of the ground, which one must never take for granted.