Naeem Mohaiemen imagines rhizomatic families, malleable borders, and socialist utopias– beginning from postcolonial markers and then radiating outward to unlikely transnational alliances. In spite of underscoring a tendency toward misrecognition of allies, the hope of a future global left, against current categories of race, religion and nation, drives the work
The film Tripoli Cancelled (2017) is staged in the Ellinikon airport terminal, designed by Eero Saarinen in 1969 and subsequently closed in 2001 when the new Eleftherios Venizelos airport opened for the 2004 Olympic Games. The airport was recently used as a shelter for refugees, and then became one of the Greek state properties contracted in 2016 for real estate redevelopment. In the film, a man follows a daily routine of walking, smoking, writing letters, staging scenes, and reading from a weathered copy of ‘Watership Down’. Gradually, we learn that his prison for the last decade is an abandoned airport, and witness his slow descent into madness. The story is inspired by the experience of Mohaiemen’s father, trapped without a passport at Athens Ellinikon airport for nine days in 1977. In Mohaiemen’s first fiction film, the line between prisoner and king is blurred in a merging of our epoch of desperate migration with the post-Holocaust concept of “spectral human” (Hannah Arendt) and Der Muselmänner (Giorgio Agamben).