Wordplay As Activism: Interview with Alaa Abu Asad and Ulufer Çelik
By Ophelia Lai
In 2016, after meeting during their master’s studies at the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem, multimedia artists Ulufer Çelik and Alaa Abu Asad began compiling and illustrating words that pointed to commonalities between Turkish and Palestinian Arabic, their respective mother tongues. Some of the words are identical in pronunciation and meaning, some are similar, and some are homophonous but mean different things. Their ever-growing list turned into an ongoing project titled I love it when translation can be found to agree with our weird desires (2017– ), spanning live performance, video, sound, and an award-winning book that was published in 2020. In this interview, the Rotterdam-based artists discuss their close collaboration, the act of translation, and the empowering potential of their expansive project.