future friend/ships

By Keith Hennessy + Jassem Hindi
with lighting designer Dennis Döscher


"Irony is about the tension of holding incompatible things together because both or all are necessary and true. Irony is about humor and serious play. It is also a rhetorical strategy and a political method."  - Donna Haraway

future friend/ships is made from oracles and drones and childish dances.

Projecting oneself into the future is more often than not a privilege reserved to a happy few, and a way to reproduce sameness. future friend/ships casts a different kind of physical future fiction: we host the uninvited to conjure the curse.

We are amateur oracles and oracle-making machines. We call upon fragments of raging poetry, broken machines, dying animals, and plastic flowers. We use arab future fiction and punk anxiety as excuses and models. We celebrate, among others, the poetry of Etel Adnan, Nazik al Malaika and Donna Haraway. The more we generate potential for transformation, the more we will be surprised by the future. Otherness hosts otherness.

Utopian science-fiction texts, drone wars, and works from Middle Eastern artists, and ambivalent outcomes of the Arab Spring activate this work. future friend/ships is poetry as political practice.

Despite feeling powerless to save what is already lost, we consider it our role to imagine an impossible future, and to embody this (post) utopian place, in fragments, on stage, with rich visual components and a desire to share this experience with others. Our approach to Arab Futurism is to defend one simple idea: to borrow from the geo-traumatic chaos, the maddening world, the desperation, the hospitality to strangers and strange things if it is impossible to project ourselves in a near immediate future because of war and misery, we can always imagine a fictional future.

Duration: 75 minutes

Production History

Dec 15-17, 2016 :: San Francisco, CA :: CounterPulse

Jan 9-12, 2016 :: New York, NY :: American Realness at Abrons Art Center

June 10-12, 2015 :: Hamburg, Germany :: Kampnagel


By Jassem Hindi + Keith Hennessy
Created in collaboration with lighting designer Dennis Döscher

Costume Construction: Keriann Egeland
Dramaturg: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Produced by Circo Zero
Production Manager: Alec White
Fiscal Sponsor: CounterPulse
Documents Photography: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Performance Photography: Anja Beutler and Ian Douglas
Zine Design: Chris Cuadrado

Jassem Hindi (French / Palestinian, Born in Saudi Arabia, 1981) is an artist based in Berlin playing with strange objects, future fiction and politics of hospitality. His usual materials are broken sounds, broken bodies and broken texts. In the recent past years he has been involved in a series of collectives and collective performances focusing on political strategies and weird objects in performance, using tools coming from real time composition, concrete music, future making poetry and politics of friendship. Jassem also gives workshops, both in philosophy and about sound in performance.  This past recent period he has collaborated, among others, with Keith Hennessy, Ida Larsen, Marie-Louise Stentebjerg, Ruairi Donovan, Hana Erdman, Rani Nair, Jeremy Wade, Valentina Desideri and Mia Habib. He is the recipient of several grants and residency programs, and has been / is supported by Norway, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, France, and the U.S.A. (CCN Belfort, Norwegian Arts Council, Nordic Culture Fund, Kampnagel Hamburg, EMS Stockholm, Ystad Arts Museum...) 

A short trailer from a work-in-progress presentation of future friend/ships


"...Keith Hennessy and Jassem Hindi, proved both passionate and tender. In “future friend/ships,” the two stage a defiant, poetic/political work, inspired by events in Syria, that gradually transforms chaos into hope."  - The New York Times

Do toy drones dream of an Arab future? - Maro Guevara - 48 Hills (2016)

The Practice of Kinship: A Conversation with Jassem Hindi - Marie Tollon  - ODC Dance Stories (2016)

Meet the Bay Area Artists Making Dystopian Performance Art for This Political Moment - The Bold Italic (2016)

The interpersonal is global at CounterPulse - Calendar Feature - Lily Janiak - San Francisco Chronicle (2016)

Shine a Beam into Darkness - Review - Rita Felciano - Dance View Times (2016)

The Startling Brilliance of a Somewhat Troubled Year: Bay Area Theater in 2016 - John Wilkins - KQED

Performance Text

Written by Jassem Hindi, in dialogue with Keith Hennessy

“We walked among the smashed machines
    and looked through undrugged eyes
    for engines of another war
    and an attrition of the soul and the device.
With craft and plane and ship,
And gun and drone and field we played.
We wrote an allegory of our regress
In other people’s tears and in other people’s blood;
These are the tentative poetics of our rise.”

- Ian Banks, rewritten for Arab Futurism

In 1950 Keith and I started a series of paintings entitled: “Donna Haraway as the mythical city of Baghdad”. With our future seeing night goggles and with the help of legendary oriental fatalism, we were able to predict the destiny of the Arab cities. Baghdad, capital of poetry and gin tonic, would be torn apart, transfigured into lunch, to be devoured by a giant lion. Damascus, herald of political theater, would become an arena of wild fire, burning its own children and its legendary palaces. Beyrouth, the magical teapot of journalism and spear of the feminist wave, would retract like an old apricot. Trablos, Jaddeh, Beit Lehem, Tizi Ouzou, Adis Abbeba, Aden, Sour, Homs, Deir e Zor, Iskandaria, Tikrit, Bent e Jnoub, Tabouk, Wadi Sha7rour, Kherbet anafar…the formless, the fabulous and the darkness.

We used painting and printing as a divination technique, and thanks to our sensitive little radar ears, we were able to unveil our collective destiny from what was then only a frown on the desert’s brow or a pdf found on google. Haraway inspired an irreverent practice of transformation, drawing the first lines of what the politics of friendship might entail. She reminded us that one of the treasure of the Arab world was its sense of hospitality and generosity, that we were not afraid of hosting the stranger within our midst, that we were not afraid of claiming that we were of no country, and that we had always hosted all cultures.

Unfortunately, the real Middle of the East perceives itself as a place with no future, with nothing to offer that is not tainted by sadness or by madness. We think of ourselves as incapable of performing the simple gestures of hospitality. We invoke our wars, our misery, and our home in ruins. Every situation hides a series of impossible tasks. The fragile status of women, the aggressive meddling of imperial interests, the pressure of wild capitalism, the corruption, the prejudices, the lack of historical understanding… All these stones in our way have made it impossible to imagine a future.

What is then left for us to offer?
Our capacity to charm our friends with our imagination.
Our capacity to help them slip into the night.

كان يا ما كان في قديم الزمان هلآ منحكي وبعد شويه منام

We want a fictional future. We need a new place to host our guests, a tent, a cave, a pyramid, or even a hammam. We are the astronauts of our territories. We will walk all the way from Detroit to Ramallah – in space suits if we have to. We need an inter-stellar program, with a time travel department, a gender disruption department, a department for the satellites of our solitude, a great animal reconciliation program, a research facility for biological and non-biological sentient presences. We need a particle accelerator capable of clashing metaphors against metaphors.

… and under starry nights, wrapped in blankets of unlikely friendship, we will rest and brew some kind of amazing teas, made out of queer plants gathered on our adventures.

For us, the words of Captain Picard of the USS Enterprise resonate strangely, as a promise of joy and hospitality:

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Arab friend/ship. Its eternal mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

كان يا ما كان في قديم الزمان هلآ منحكي وبعد شويه منام


future friend/ships was created with funding from The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Commissions and Cultural Equity Initiative, and Grants for the Arts. future friend/ships was initially commissioned and created-in-residency at Kampnagel in Hamburg, Germany.