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Your Darkness Is Different Than Mine

The faces are stoical, poised, playful, wary: all Lebanese, and all confronted daily with the assumption that they’re not. This experience of being labeled as “other” and often “lesser” is what ongoing art project “Mixed Feelings” aims to reveal. A collaboration between activist Nisreen Kaj and photographer Marta Bogdanska, the project began last year with an exhibition at Dar Al-Mussawir that combined portraits of 30 Lebanese of part African or Asian heritage with wall texts articulating participants’ encounters with racism.

The intense discussion this exhibition generated inspired Kaj and Bogdanska to expand it by increasing in the number of participants and including Arabic to reach different demographics. According to Kaj, the next phase will likely be “a roving exhibition that goes through a number of institutions” and include more debates, while a “more generational and archival” sister initiative will also “look closer at racial consciousness and modes of socialization.”


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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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