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Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Nour Mobarak

Nour Mobarak

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve by Alfredo Jaar offers a powerful reflection on the limits of language and the role of creative expression in times of tragedy. A lament for today’s darkness and a call to find the words to confront these tragic hours, the bold new public intervention displays the arresting title of a poem by Adrienne Rich (1929–2012), a figure of inspiration for Jaar since the 1980s, who observed the limits of words in times of unthinkable violence: “no poetry can serve to mitigate such acts, they nullify language itself,” she wrote in 2011. Throughout November 2023, Alfredo Jaar and CIRCA commissioned a series of poetic dialogues, curated by Vittoria de Franchis, from international writers, thinkers and speakers. Giving voice to those who find themselves silenced or without words, the poems hope to achieve Rich’s ambition that creative expression can reconcile conflicting realities.


We are going through a very repressive moment, when nuance is lost and free speech is threatened. But I strongly believe that the spaces of art and culture must remain spaces of freedom. Artists will not be intimidated. In this environment, I have turned to the words of anti-war campaigner and poet Adrienne Rich to reflect both the limits of language and the frustration felt by many that voices for peace and justice cannot sound out as clearly as we wish. And, as part of the CIRCA commission, I am turning to today’s poets, writers, and artists, to support a forum for creative expression where the clear-sighted demands of humanity and empathy can be heard. In these times when politics have failed us miserably, art and culture are our only hope. Art is like the air we breathe, without art, life would be unlivable. Art creates spaces of resistance, spaces of hope.


Pain Pond vs Impunity Pool by Nour Mobarak


We have

Eyes out like empty water glasses, we must witness this blood reality and drink from that universal pain pond, wet body of agony, just licking the smallest sip of that which the live-streaming are forced each to guzzle endless ladlefuls of every day, so that we might spit the lucid poison out and drive all the rest to taste it. Otherwise, tormentors wade in their impunity pools. Hawk to reject. May this be how that filthy pond finally goes dry, or what am I drinking. 



Hand-signed limited edition print by Alfredo Jaar, £120+VAT. Proceeds will be donated to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. Available here.




Nour Mobarak is a Lebanese-American artist based in Los Angeles, United States and Athens, Greece. Working across sound, performance, video, sculpture, and writing, her practice reflects a longstanding interest in mechanized voice, memory, violence and desire, and the hybridized body under geopolitical conditions.