Podcast – The Boundaries of No

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Podcast - The Boundaries of No

Participants: Nora Al-Badri, Nora Al-Badri, Samia Henni & Luiza Prado de O. Martins

Refusal as a socio-political gesture often extends far beyond the simple act of saying no. It often involves a process of moving through conflict within and against the limits and boundaries of institutions, histories, behaviours and practices. Luiza Prado de O. Martins leads a self-reflexive conversation with artists, designers and educators, Nora Al-Badri, Dana Abdulla, and Samia Henni. In this discussion they ask how do personal and political gestures of refusal materialise and actualise in spaces of media art and design practice, pedagogy and activism? In the recording, and in the space between them, they explain the necessity for this unsettling work and share their experiences that exist in the zones of discomfort and dangers of practicing how to say no. They think through the dyad of the gatekeeper and the denied, navigate the rhetorics of inclusion and diversity in University contexts, and unpack the privileges and risks of drawing a line under things.

Nora Al-Badri is a multi-disciplinary and conceptual media artist with a German-Iraqi background. Her works are research-based as well as para-disciplinary and as much postcolonial as post- digital. She lives and works in Berlin. She graduated in political sciences at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt/Main and was the first artist-in-residence at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology (EPFL) and its Laboratory for Experimental Museology (eM+) in 2020.

Danah Abdulla is a designer, educator and researcher interested in new narratives and practices in design that push the disciplinary boundaries and definitions of the discipline.She is Programme Director of Graphic Design at Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts, UAL. Prior to this role, she was Senior Lecturer in Communication Design at Brunel University London, and was a Lecturer in the design school at London College of Communication. Danah is a founding member of the Decolonising Design research group, and the Creative Director and Editor of Kalimat Magazine, a non-profit publication about Arab thought and culture.

Samia Henni was born and raised in Algiers, Algeria. She is a historian, a theorist, an educator, and an exhibition maker of the built, destroyed, and imagined environments. She is interested in questions of colonization, deserts, displacement, gender, extraction, and wars. In 2016, she received her Ph.D. (with distinction, ETH Medal) in the History and Theory of Architecture from the gta Institute, ETH Zurich. Since 2017, she is Lecturer at the gta Institute, ETH Zurich, and at the Geneva University of Art and Design.

Luiza Prado de O. Martins is an artist, writer, and researcher whose work examines themes around fertility, herbal medicine, coloniality, gender, and race. She is part of the curatorial board of transmediale 2021, is a lecturer at the Institute for Art in Context at the University of the Arts Berlin, and an assistant professor and vice-director of the Centre for Other Worlds at the Lusófona University in Lisbon. She is also a founding member of the Decolonising Design collective.

About transmediale

For over thirty years transmediale has been one of the key leading international events for discourse and critical reflection on post-digital theory and practice. As Germany’s premier media art festival, the festival has become an influential event in the calendar of theorists, artists, activists and makers and attracts a diverse audience interested in art and culture. The festival is renowned for generating diverse, urgent and necessary debate around how digital technologies affect the lived human experience of the contemporary now. It has an extensive international network of partners including CTM, Winchester School of Art, Aarhus University and the Vilém Flusser Archive at the Universität der Künste Berlin. The festival is committed to continuous reflection on socio-political discourse and experimentation with structure and formats that challenge the conventions of how culture is experienced and understood. This has resulted in the creation of strong programming in various formats and models that build an understanding of the many intersecting fields that coalesce in the field of media arts. This has built transmediale into a dynamic festival that engages with experimentation and takes interdisciplinary artistic risks. At the core of the festival is a philosophy that continuously rethinks what culture is, where it takes place and what modes of engagement we offer for audiences.


These pre-recorded artistic and discursive contributions explore individual and collective forms of refusal that relate to institutional practices of labour, knowledge and values. The contributions explore how tactics of refusal open up possibilities for rethinking the values embedded within public and private institutions.