Festival of Hope 1 / 27 April 2020

"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming." Pablo Neruda

Part 1

Invited by Elena Sorokina: 

Babi Badalov, Gluklya, TONY, Abdul Sabor, Magdi Masaara, Randa Maddah, Hura Mirshekari and Mehdi Yarmohammadi, Ramo, Carine Prache

- Who is this older man on this photograph? I asked Abdul.

- I don’t know his name, you can call him Ahmad if you want. Nobody gives real names among refugees anyway, you never know what comes next. He always cooked for everybody. 

- But where did he get food for everybody? 

- No idea. He managed somehow, and he would prepare parata and chai for all of us, he was from Pakistan. We would all get to a lit area of the hangar, sit and eat there, try to keep warm and chat together, it was very nice. I liked to photograph him very much.   

- And two young men on the other photo, who are they? 

- They lost each other in Serbia. They crossed the Mediterranean together, and then they lost each other. And then they met again in Paris, by pure chance, can you imagine? 

- No…


Abdul Sabor, from the series Long Journey from Home

Abdul Sabor, from the series Friends in Paris, 2018


J'ai traversé le désert et la mer

Laissant derrière moi

sœurs mères et pères 

J'avais le choix 

Entre mourir 

Ou fuir …

Pour le meilleur

Ou pour le pire

Je suis au feu 

Dans les gares sur les trottoirs

Beaucoup évitent mon regard

Malgré ça, je garde espoir

J'attends qu'on me tende la main

Qu'on me considère comme un citoyen

Comme un être humain

J'essaye de remonter la pente 

J'ai pas le choix

Mais pour le moment je suis

Dans ma tente Quechua

Je ne veux pas vous faire de la peine 

Encore moins de la haine

La vie peut être belle si tout le

Monde s'aime

(English translation)

I crossed the desert and the sea 

I left

Everything behind me 

I left

All my mothers, my fathers and sisters

For worse or for better

My choice was to die

Or to flee...

At every crossroad,

In the train stations, on the sidewalks

Many avoid my gaze, 

They look away

And yet I remain


I wait for a hand to hold

I want to be called 

A citizen

Like every other human! 

I try to get back on my feet

It’s the only choice I’m left with

But for now, I sleep in the street

In my Quechua tent

Don’t  feel bad for me

I don’t want your rage

Look at how life can be


With our love shared

Translated by Ramo (Omar Thek-Zeroual)


Carine Prache, If hope were a place, 2020

A recurrent misconception is that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, dividing the Atlantic and Indian oceans. In fact, from the purely geographic point of view, the actual tip lies further, it is about 150 km further to the East-South.  


J’étais gamin

Rien dans les mains

Je monte dans le train

Un trajets sans fin

Des pierres sur mon chemin

J’en ai fait des escaliers

J’en ai fait des escaliers

J’ai pas eu le bonheur

De prendre l’ascenseur

De toutes façons

Quand t’es au fond

Tu peux que monter

Mais n’oublie jamais

Qu’à tout moment

L’ascenseur peut lâcher

Le plus dur n’est pas de tomber

Mais de se relever

Faut pas dormir 

Ça peut être pire

Comme l’ami qui boit ton argent

Comme un vampire buvant un verre de sang 

Comme un vampire.. 

(English translation)

I was a wild child 

Running after trains

For journeys that never end 

With every rock I met

I built stairways 

I built stairways 

In any way

I could never say

I’ll take an elevator

When you’re at the bottom 

You can only rise

Just keep in mind

That at any time 

Your lift might decline

It’s easy to fall 

And hard to get back up 

You mustn’t sleep at all

Keep your eyes up

A friend who uses you 

For your money 

Is a vampire kissing you 

Drinking your blood 

Your blood. 

Translated by Ramo (Omar Thek-Zeroual)


Babi Badalov, Making Art, 2020, 88 x 77,5 cm. Signé et daté au dos Galerie Poggi. Collection personnelle de Jérôme Poggi.


Randa Maddah, Light Horizon, 2012. Click on image to follow external link.

Babi Badalov was born in Lerik, Azerbaijan. He was one of the prominent members of the Saint Petersburg art scene in the 1990s, but was obliged to leave the city and the country. He currently lives and works in Paris, producing prolifically and exhibiting extensively. He often describes his work as “art poetry” or “visual poetry”. 

Randa Maddah was born in the Golan Heights, she graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Sculpture, in Damascus, Syria, and later from the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris. She has exhibited internationally.

Abdul Saboor was born in Nagrahar, Afghanistan. Forced to flee from the Talibans, he followed the long route to Europe through the Balkans. During the months he travelled, he used his smart phone as a tool to document his life and the lives of other refugees. Since living in Paris, he has participated in numerous exhibitions in France and elsewhere.  

Ramo was born in the south of Casablanca in Morocco and initially studied mathematics. Forced to leave his home for reasons of freedom of expression, he came to France, where he currently lives. His poems were published by New River Press in 2017. He performed in Presence of Mehryl Levisse at Musée des Arts Décoratifs and showed his work at the Musée national de l'histoire de l’immigration in Paris. 

TONY was born in Paris into a family originally from the island of Réunion. He started to write texts stylistically close to the slam tradition in his early teens and continued to experiment with different styles later on. Among his inspirations are Kery James, Joe Dassin, and Jean Genet. 


Elena Sorokina

Elena Sorokina is curator, writer and art historian, she was curator of the HISK (High Institute of Fine Arts, Belgium) 2017-2018. Between 2015-2017 she was curatorial advisor of documenta 14 in Athens/Kassel. Alumna of the Whitney Museum of American Art ISP in New York, and the Friedrich Wilhelm’s University in Bonn, Germany, she collaborated with numerous institutions and published in catalogs and magazines.