Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme on Missing Crappy Clubs and Shaking Hands With Strangers

Ahead of their online-only project, ‘May Amnesia Never Kiss Us on the Mouth’, the artist duo answer our questionnaire

BY Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme in Questionnaires | 03 DEC 20

What was the first work of art you loved? 

Basel Abbas: If I could remember that, I wouldn’t be who I am, making the art I make today; but, it would probably have to be my mother’s singing. 

Ruanne Abou-Rahme: My father’s miniature paintings and two films I watched with him as a child: Rashomon (1950) by Akira Kurosawa and Kwaidan (1964) by Masaki Kobayashi. 

What’s underrated?

BA: Palestinian music, open-source bodies of knowledge, the discussion about the bio-policing hell we are about to be subject to. 

RAR: Nabulsi hard white cheese, prickly pear, a politics of justice. 

Which are the most important works of art you’ve encountered lately?

BA: Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (2019) by Saidiya Hartman and Atlantics (2019) by Mati Diop.

RAR: The Right to Maim (2017) by Jasbir Puar and Kamil Manqus (2020), a new album by Muqata’a released on Hundebiss Records.

What surprises people about you? 

BA: I can’t spend too long in nature; the city is my safe space. 

RAR: I went to a British school in Jerusalem.

What do you like to do when you’re alone? 

BA: Sing. 

RAR: Daydream.

What do you miss during the pandemic?

BA: Sunsets on the beach in Yafa; shaking the hands of strangers; making new friends while dancing; going to friends’ DJ sets.

RAR: Random encounters in the city; small, dark, crappy clubs; not being anxious about what and whom my body is coming into contact with every time I go outside; life without compulsive hand-sanitizer use.

This article first appeared in frieze issue 215.

Main image: Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Screenshot 2020-06-05 22.04.04, 2020.Courtesy: the artists

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme are artists. Their online-only project, ‘May Amnesia Never Kiss Us on the Mouth’, launches on Dia Art Foundation’s website,, on 3 December. They live in New York, USA, and Ramallah, Palestine.