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Writing (MA)

Moad Musbahi

I undertook the Writing MA while working as a Visiting Lecturer within the School of Architecture at the RCA. I am an artist and curator, and consider writing being integral to my practice. I am currently working on collective projects through

I recently curated In Pursuit of Images, Architectural Association School of Architecture, London (2020), an exhibition on the racial regimes of documentary film practice in relation to the work of Harun Farocki, and was a member of Adrian Lahoud's curatorial team for Rights of Future Generations, the inaugural edition of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial (2019). I co-organised ‘Instituting Destruction’, a project that brought together a group of architects, photographers and archivists, forming an association to document the destruction of community spaces and tombs in Tripoli, Janzour and Tajoura (2015–2018).

I presented Ikhtiyār and the production of (in)visibility, a lecture performance with Enass Khansa at the Publishing Maneuvers Symposium Public Sessions, Warehouse421, Abu Dhabi (2020), and Sufi Tombs and Sea Burials, Performing Preservation, a lecture performance at Jameel Art Center, Dubai (2020). My work has also been featured in exhibitions such as How to Disappear, Beirut Art Center (2019), and Architecture of the Territory, Beit Beirut (2019). Recent publications include Paper Nor Me_xx2: Beyond the Paper Principle (Kayfa ta, 2020); ‘Asl (Origin)’ in AA Files 76 (2019); ‘face me I face you’ in NOIT — 5: bodies as in buildings (Flat Time House, 2019); and ‘The Sahara Is not a Desert: Re-Mapping Libya, Unravelling the State’ in The Funambulist 18 Cartography & Power (2018).

I participated in the Library on Fire residency, LUMA Foundation, Arles, France (2016), and The Supreme Achievement, CAMPO Space & Black Square Press, Rome (2015). I am a recipient of the Sharjah Art Foundation's Production Programme Grant (2020).

I hold an MArch from the Architectural Association School of Architecture.



Sharjah Art Foundation

AA Projects Review

Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Writing (MA)

I am interested in migration understood in the broadest sense as both a social process and a form of knowledge production. I explore how different cultural entanglements are possible, how they expose and highlight histories of colonial and racial violence and their generative and propositional possibilities.

The work here has been developed in the context and with the intellectual generosity of the MA programme. It is a small selection of different texts, performances and videos that have been shown as part of the course and as events alongside of it, The extent and variety of topics and styles are a product of thinking critically on the inherent tensions and contradictions within how disciplines and mediums are defined, taking an approach to writing and to thinking 'textually'  which was a direct concern of the final thesis project.

parts, surfaces, _  , illumination, vanishing

parts, surfaces, _ , illumination, vanishing — Excerpt: "“The body is the inscribed surface of events.” What connects the different categories of mark making is the piercing process itself. The act breaks with the surface’s flatness and create a series of reliefs in a legible form. The puncturing of skin is charged with a consequence of permanence. Marks on bodies, tattoos and birth marks, can be used to read a certain person’s identity, they are used to identify an individual for the unique arrangement betrays them in its inalterability. Other piercing marks accrue different value. As in the marking of the body of Christ upon his followers. Transferal through the condition of stigmata. The original act of Stigmata was the wounds upon Christ, of his passion, transposed onto the human body of Francis of Assisi (d. 1226), whose very skin acted as the support for this transferal, the identical nature of the marks was the saintly product of St. Francis’ perfect imitation of Christ. The stigmata become an evidentiary tactic, a rite of passage, in which the body assimilated that of Christ’s, or taken further, it was the very surface for the scripture of Christianity. A bodily writing support, the memory of the ultimate sacrifice as an imprint upon Francis’ body - through flesh. Stigmata is an archival process, a repository from which the story of the redemption can be read through the incision on the saint."

The thesis project was composed of sections that contained examples, quotes, observations, methods, impulses, remarks and images that explored forms of knowledge production that were embodied. Ranging from across the contemporary period to the ancient, along geographies and non-places, the work was connected through an approach that understood authorship as a set of writing behaviours and as forms of materially situated textuality.
How to maneuver:Shape-shifting texts and other publishing tactics

How to maneuver:Shape-shifting texts and other publishing tactics — Second Exhibition curated by Kayfa-ta / Maha Maamoun and Ala Younis featuring the work 'paper nor me_xx1: a fatwa for the removal.."

Ikhtiyar and the Production of (in)Visibility — How do artists present their work and choose to engage with the politics of creativity? These questions are prevalent in early Arab-Islamic texts and culture. Through the concept of ikhityar (the Arabic word for choice) processes of selection, reproduction and thus inclusion and exclusion, have developed into a rich tradition with many different forms; transmission, quotation, parody, reference, reuse, restoration, memory, conservation, copiousness. This lecture performance will question the role of origin, authenticity and visibility in the work of “paper nor me_xx1” among other examples, considering the ethical implications of ikhityar and how it continues to operate as a contemporary form of production.
paper nor me_xxx is a series of works, first developed as part of the MA brief on observation, and was first exhibited as part of How To Disappear, a show curated by Ala Younis and Maha Maamoun at Beirut Art Center, 2019. A lecture-performance formed the third iteration in collaboration with Prof. Enass Khansa.


video installation, text, performance


20 min

In Collaboration with:

Curators / Editors
collaborator on 'Ikhtiyar'.
excerpt from 'face me I face you'

excerpt from 'face me I face you' — "You now understand, the house as a sight-line, from door to door, from entrance to exit. Other things are also sighted, the interior décor, the dusty tables and much-used chairs, the picture frames pinned up and the doors leading elsewhere. The in-between. Each object, each grain, each misplaced particle and each picture and corresponding frame becomes an opening in this unfolding interior. A forensic hook that has the potential to disembowel the silent history of its arrival. Unravelled, you continue down the corridor, loudly."

An article in NOIT 5 - Bodies as In Buildings that was edited by George Lynch and Yin Ying Kong on behalf of MA Writing in collaboration with Flat Time House.l.



In Collaboration with:

Graphic Designer
AA files 76: Asl

AA files 76: Asl — Excerpt: "Without chance of exit, in an all-encompassing web of relation, this method provides a means of violent exclusion, and one for forging alliances, with the strongest force. Social forms that cross diagonally, beyond the state, breaking and re-ordering the system anew, resetting the clock. She entered during waqt alasyl, the time of asl, twilight, the end of the day. I met her in the evening before the maghrib prayer and the setting sun. I found her, ‘ulqiatuha asylah, at the moment of lowest light, during the dawn of a new night. Asl as a period of the day is inferred from the Quran in [7:205)"

An article published in the Architectural Association's journal AA Files. The writing was first developed as part of the 'Archaeologies' MA brief in the spring of 2019.

In Collaboration with:

writing as scripting — accompanying text, to be spoken aloud during screening. each section corresponds to a train on a track, the word count determined by the time of the train in the frame 00:00-06:50 all 600 0 Voice-over 00:00-01:36 left 225 1 "The traveler who knows that the coins which he offers up to this sacrificial column recommend him to the protection of the boiler god which glows through the night, the smoke naiads which play above the train, and the demon who is master over all lullabies. He knows all of them from dreams, but he also knows the succession of mythical trials and dangers which has presented itself to the zeitgeist as a ‘railway journey,’ and the unforeseeable flow of spatio-temporal thresholds over which it moves, starting with the famous ‘too late’ of the person left behind, the original image of everything missed, through to the loneliness of the compartment, the fear of missing the connection and the grey of the unknown station into which he is riding. Walter Benjamin in the text ‘Kriminalromane, auf Resien’ published in 1930 writes on the interplay between the detective novel and the rise of railway journeys. He makes a list of detective novelists that are in tune with the particular journeys of the train – “Anna Katherine Green whose ‘short stories are just the same length as the Gotthard Tunnel and great novels Behind Locked Doors, In the House Next Door, bloom in the purple-shaded coupe light like night violets.”" 00:30-01:14 down 90 2 Within scientific discourse, there is a conceptual model known as path dependency. It is a modelling technique that ascertains how previous technologies lay the ground for future ones. It places emphasis on the material effects of this dependency, that the channels laid, and the spaces configured in the lifetime of the previous technology provides the possible ground from which to steer development from which would emerge the successor technology. Path dependency gives acknowledgement to the historical social and cultural factors that becomes manifest in the roles of serendipity and tinkering within technological development. 01:16-02:10 up 130 3 An act of prejudice is the act of a determination of something that is about to occur, in advance of something. In advance of knowing the context or event say. Through the signature we determine our signee. We determine her based on her previous act of fixing her name, her identity, as inscription, on a substrate, be it a page, a computer screen, an engraving on a sculpture, the document that represents a building. 01:20-04:56 down 400 4 “New infrastructures do not so much supersede old ones as ride on top of them, forming physical and organizational palimpsests—telephone lines follow railway lines, and over time these pathways have not been diffused, but rather etched more deeply into the urban landscape.” (repeat 10x) 01:50-02:58 right 150 5 The tension between the image and caption, where one evades and one inscribes, splits focus, leading to an oscillation between transmission and retention | reception and perception. The care taken with the act produces a legibility that allows the information within the symbolic construction of the text to be constitutive. The text to be understood for text. Text awaiting a reading. The closer the reading, the greater the text communicates. This closeness indicates a reduced pace, but an increased friction and thus traction with which the flow passes between arrangement of ink to arrangement of thoughts. Traction here is dependant on a certain care, in terms of legibility, and a care that is defined by the placement of the legible signs that denies them the potential to fall off, from the page and ultimately from communication. traction regulating speed… care in terms of placement in time and place Traction (n) Early 15c. “a drawing or pulling” (originally the pulling of a dislocated limb to reposition it). Here ‘traction’ is defined as a process of pulling, implying a pulling away from some place toward another place. This formulation in terms of a process of tension between abs-traction and dis-traction produces movement. 03:08-04:05 up 140 6 x 03:45-04:32 down 90 7 The speed of this movement; between a thing that distracts the self, to the self’s abstraction of something is regulated by the traction of the medium. The number of distractions on a table, dis- alluding to a lack, herein a lack of focus, a minimal traction. The abstractability of an item is determined by the amount of care placed into it, allowing greater retention in its legibility. The care in which a caption is written and placed determines the potential flow of information. Existing to distract and is itself an abstraction of the image with which it is coupled. 05:10-06:39 up 215 x x 05:54-06:29 down 70 x x 06:08-06:17 up 5 x x
“[Konrad Zuse] developed calculating machines, it is said that he built the first computer...His computer is a traffic system: it contains a series of forks, each necessitates the decision yes or no, one or zero”.1

Trains carry passengers from one railway station to another at preordained moments, regularly illuminating the landscape. At these crossings, this illumination for the train driver is only a few tens of meters. It enables sight of the tracks, to ensure they are not obstructed, for the split second before the immediate moment of their passing by.

It is observed that new infrastructures do not so much replace old ones, but rather flow together, etching their pathways ever more deeply into the landscape. Telephone lines built on top, pulsate across the junction, fiber optic cables flash at a millionth of a second against the sparks of metallic brakes. As geographies are surmounted and the tyranny of distance has been overcome, these concentrated structures remain elusive and illusory. They script the vectorial force of their dispersive power, but are precarious in their concrete formations as they continually pulsate with possibilities of invisible dispositions, of an alternate arrival, of (an)other.

1. As You See (1986), Harun Farocki (at 00:42:30)





In Collaboration with:

sound design
19 July 2020
17:00 (GMT + 0)

MA Writing: Writing the Generational Subject 1, Moad Musbahi with Ayesha Attah

Student panel discussion
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