Marah Haj Hussein (b.1998) is a dancer, actress and maker from Kofor Yassif in occupied Palestine. She is currently based in Antwerp, where she graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor of Dance at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp. In June 2023, she completed her master's degree in Drama at KASK in Ghent. By merging these two disciplines, Haj Hussein challenges the delineation that separates text from movement, while simultaneously searching for possible ways to allow both into the performative space.
In her work, Haj Hussein hones in on the concept and definition of mother tongue, exploring the power dynamics between languages. This focus resulted in the performances Kilma Hilwa & Zayt Zaitoun (2021), In Exile (2022) and Language: no broblem (2023). In addition to her own work, she is performing in Another Sacre, coached by Alain Platel & Bérengère Bodin, TH LNG GDBY by Tuur Marinus and Colors by Frank Dierens and Jitse Huysmans.
During her residency at Moussem, Haj Hussein aims to continue her work on the performance Language: No broblem, which she started developing for her final presentation at KASK in 2023. In this performance, the artist spatializes different voices in a series of conversations in and about Palestinian Arabic, based on self-made recordings that she has collected in-situ in Palestine since 2021. In these conversations, various members of Haj Hussein's family talk about their relationship to their mother tongue—Arabic—and that to the official language of the country where they live in—Hebrew.
"Through those conversations, I aim to draw attention to the characteristics and evolution of a language within a series of impactful social and political conditions. Giving voice to spoken Palestinian Arabic as well as including Hebrew, Dutch and English, Language: no broblem wishes to investigate the role of language through personal narrations in shaping our understanding of borders and displacement.”
In 2023, Marah Haj Hussein won the Roel Verniers Prize for the further development of her performance.
Photo: Anas Murra