No Such Organisation (2018–2020) is a series of one hundred paintings that document the fallout from a single event: the assassination of Saudi-Arabian dissident Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The cycle of paintings chronicles the repercussions of this event sequentially, through the journalistic and juridical investigations it triggered. These investigations confronted the development of cyber weapons and spyware, and the ways in which they have compromised the safety and working conditions of journalists, activists and political dissidents throughout the world.
The reporting of Khashoggi’s death changed radically during the first days and weeks that followed, in what Navine Khan-Dossos perceived as a kaleidoscope of tumbling details. It was a story that never quite settled, either in terms of fact or of responsibility. The paintings respond to this uncertainty by deploying symbolic elements that stand in for players in the story – nation states, agencies and technologies – which shift into new alignments with each iteration, resisting final judgement. The case remains without a central visual figure, as the body of Khashoggi was never recovered. Sound and silence meanwhile played a key role in the case, as a recording from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was circulated in the media. Into this absence of images, Khan-Dossos inscribes one hundred renderings of the event.
As the narrative around the murder expanded over the subsequent months, so the subjects of the paintings broaden to visualize further issues raised by the case. In particular, the role of surveillance technologies sold by private companies to governments for domestic and international use in matters of security and intelligence, with little oversight. A critical stance is now developing around the ethics of such surveillance tools, and as such, the paintings explore in abstracted terms these changes in awareness and campaigning around the role of cyber weapons in global politics.
Alongside No Such Organisation, Khan-Dossos exhibits Silent Latitude (2019), a work that equally emerges from a commitment to structure and form as a way to represent complex narratives. Fabricated in collaboration with the Greek Transgender Support Association in Athens and Z33 with MIA-H in Hasselt, Silent Latitude is a quilt made by many women in different places, a communal act of creation. The work began with a series of watercolour designs produced in Athens with the GTSA, based on the Greek Cross, which is a common pattern in traditional quilting. The designs were then reworked and completed by the women of MIA-H, a Belgian textile workshop. No Such Organisation and Silent Latitude follow a similar structural base: a square format divided into a 3×3 grid. In both works, the individual squares may stand alone, and also interact to form larger configurations of pattern and signification.
The title Silent Latitude is taken from the poetry of Hadewijch, a thirteenth-century Flemish Beguine, or lay nun, known as a mystic and poet, which refers to the commonality of souls in Paradise. For the artist, the title refers to the apparent divide between the European North and South – the two sites of production for this work – along with the actual commonality of mutual support groups in both locations. The quilt is co-owned by the artist and the GTSA, with any proceeds equally divided in recognition of the shared labour. The work follows in the tradition of the Beguine communities that maintained their independence from the Church through textile production.