On my way home | Hussein Mitha

July 19, 2019 12:08 pm

Market Gallery invites you to join us for the fourth episode of our reading group On My Way Home. The facilitator and guest selector for this session is artist and researcher Hussein Mitha.

Sarturday 3rd August 3 – 6pm at Market Gallery

“We have given up communism — only to fall more deeply in love with the idea of ‘the community’” So writes Gillian Rose in the first sentence of her 1996 philosophical work, ‘Mourning Becomes the Law…’ Our reading group will focus on the first chapter of this book, ‘Athens and Jerusalem: a tale of three cities’.

Drawing on a painting by Nicolas Poussin, and its interpretation by the art historian Sister Wendy Beckett, this chapter draws attention to the way ‘the law’ can be reconfigured and reconstituted by individuals through finite acts of political justice. The act of mourning outside the city walls, a rebellion, becomes a central image for this: a reconfiguration of boundaries after the experience of loss. As we figuratively move from Rose’s ‘Old Athens’ to ‘New Jerusalem’, from the city of idealized, classical law to the city of unbounded love, from punishing civic order to a new ethics of community, Rose finds something deeply troubling with our destination as well as our relation to the past. Our search for a fabled ‘third city’ (at ‘the end of history’ of the 1990s) must also confront a fourth (anti-)city, Auschwitz, against which this process of mourning – Rose’s text – finds representation.

“To acknowledge and to re-experience the justice and injustice of the partner’s life and death is to accept the law, it is not to transgress it — mourning becomes the law. Mourning draws on transcendent but representable justice, which makes the suffering of immediate experience visible and speakable. When completed, mourning returns the soul to the city, renewed and reinvigorated for participation, ready to take on the difficulties and injustices of the existing city. The mourner returns to negotiate and challenge the changing inner and outer boundaries of the soul and of the city; she returns to their perennial anxiety.”

This first chapter is 24 pages long, which we will read as a group in the first hour of the group. Hussein will then do a short presentation involving a few key passages of the text, and invite others to present, speak or intervene if they so wish. We can then open it out into a general discussion in which any of the topics or themes raised can be discussed freely. Feel free to contact Hussein in advance too if you wish.
Due to the subtlety and brilliance of the text, prior reading is recommended but not at all necessary. Bursaries for travel and childcare costs are available for those in need, please e-mail market@marketgallery.org for more information.
The text can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/lyksfdeh2htjcnh/MOURNING%20BECOMES%20THE%20LAW%20market.pdf?dl=0 And here is Wendy Beckett’s reading of Poussin’s painting (first 4 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HW-1qMbZs4&t=1346s Image: Landscape with the gathering of the Ashes of Phocion, NICOLAS POUSSIN, (1648)

‘On my way home’ is an expanded reading group that explores belonging through the intersections of personal identity, privilege and oppression. Together we will move through realms of belonging to communities and bodies including local, city-wide, national, global and intergalactic realms. As an exercise in collaborative programming, the reading group will build towards a weekend-long festival in October.’