History as an April Fool’s Joke. Defamiliarising Collective Memory in Rabih Mroué’s So Little Time

Arkadiusz Półtorak 1
  • 1 Jagiellonian University, , Kraków, Poland


In the article, Rabih Mroué’s performance-lecture So Little Time (2017) is discussed as an example of counterfactual mobilization for the purposes of political critique in contemporary art and theatre. I scrutinize Mroué’s references to the modern history of Lebanon and—drawing upon a cultural analysis of this performance—discuss the artist’s rendering of the instrumentalization of Lebanese collective memory by competing factions in the country’s political scene. Drawing upon existing readings of Rabih Mroué’s oeuvre offered by Charles Esche and Shela Sheikh, I posit that the artist reveals the arbitrary quality of the representations of the past through defamiliarization (ostranenie), and that his method bears an affinity to Jacques Derrida’s notions of deconstruction and decolonization.

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