What would I be without the internet? A search for identity between fear and the digital world. In her project “All Hail Mother Internet”, the young Tunisian musician and singer Deena Abdelwahed closely examines the Tunisian living environment of “Generation Y”.
“It is futile to ask oneself whether the enormous technological progress that has changed rapidly in recent years and fundamentally transformed our lives – particularly in terms of communication and availability of knowledge – is “good” or “bad” for us; this is not a “project” that can be voted on. The way, however, in which it affects our future depends to a large extent on us.” (Amin MAALOUF - Mörderische Identitäten (In the Name of Identity), Suhrkamp 2000)
Tunisia was the forerunner of what is referred to as the “Arab Spring”. In 2015 the country gained international recognition, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for its National Dialogue Quartet – a platform promoting the democratization of Tunisia. Shortly afterwards, in January 2016, unrest broke out all over Tunisia. Tensions over unemployment and the country’s poor economic situation could ignite further disturbances at any time. There are also serious issues around the generation gap – a lack of social rights and prospects particularly affects young people in Tunisia.
Deena Abdelwahed is part of this younger generation who grew up with new technologies. She asks the question: What would I be without the internet? In her search for an answer, she developed the project “All Hail Mother Internet”. Her performance blends her personal position with music and text materials reflecting the internal contradictions of Tunisian society. She also incorporates excerpts from the Tunisian constitution and quotes from the book “In the Name of Identity” (Mörderische Identitäten, Suhrkamp 2000) by French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf, juxtaposing them. In addition, she invented TV interviews with young Tunisians. She herself plays the role of the older presenter who has little sympathy for their way of life. Combining this with 20th-century Arab pop music and electronic sounds, Abdelwahed paints a digital future with the hope of greater self-determination.
“All Hail Mother Internet” was awarded one of two Radio Lab 2016 scholarships and premiered in Berlin at the end of January at the CTM Festival. In the spring it was then broadcast on the radio on Deutschlandradio Kultur Klangkunst. An evolved form of the project can be experienced at ORF musikprotokoll at steirischer herbst. As a closing event for the musikprotokoll festival, musician Deena Abdelwahed (born 1989) will perform live on Ö1 Kunstradio from esc medien kunst labor.
Text by: Elisabeth Zimmermann (Ö1 Kunstradio, producer and series editor of “Kunstradio – Radiokunst”, since 2010 chairperson of the Ars Acustica group at the European Broadcasting Union)