The Congress of Idling Persons is a scattered history: an ecumenic recounting of instances where groups and populations conceptualized, demanded, and practiced radical healthcare or “democratic biopolitics”, while questioning the state’s monopoly on violence. In more poetic terms, these actors confirm the centrality of both life and death to liberatory struggle: from Bolshevik scientist and philosopher Alexander Bogdanov’s physiological collectivism, to the Black Panthers’ refusal of the medicalization of urban violence in the 1970’s, to local coordination councils established in Syrian towns under siege by the Assad regime. These histories of struggle are interspersed alongside diaristic narrations from the George Floyd protests in New York to Beirut’s October 17 uprising and the aftermath of the Port of Beirut explosion.
Bassem Saad is an artist and writer trained in architecture. His work explores objects and operations that distribute violence, pleasure, welfare, and waste. Through video, sculpture, and writing, he investigates and records strategies for maneuvering within and beyond governance systems.
Bassem’s solo and collaborative work has been screened and exhibited in different cities, and presented at Architectural Association (London), Harvard University VES (MA), Alserkal Avenue (Dubai), and through various online channels. His writing appears in Jadaliyya, Unbag, and The Funambulist, and FailedArchitecture, where he is an editorial team member. He was a web resident at Akademie Schloss Solitude and a fellow at Ashkal Alwan’s Home Workspace Program in Beirut. He was most recently a resident at Eyebeam in New York.