The Against Nature Journal: Deseos / رغبات

Deseos is the first commission for The Against Nature Journal. It has been produced in the framework of The Manufacturing of Rights (Ashkal Alwan, 2015).

Deseos / رغبات (Desires) exposes the ways in which medicine, law, religion, and cultural tradition shaped dominant discourses of the gendered and sexual body through the narration of two parallel stories. The first is that of Martina, who lived in Colombia during the late colonial period of the early 19th century. The second is the life of Nour, who lived in Beirut during the late Ottoman Empire. Part documentary and part fiction, the film presents an imaginary correspondence between these women. Separated by geography, culture, and religion they both faced the consequences of engaging in same sex relations and defying gender norms.

The colonial Court prosecuted Martina in 1803 for being a “hermaphrodite” after being accused by her female lover of having an “unnatural” body. Martina was tried in a court of law and ultimately set free after medical doctors appointed by the court were unable to find evidence of her lover’s accusation. This story is documented in the 1803 legal case found in the Archivo General de la Nación in Bogotá, Colombia. Meanwhile in Beirut, Nour married her female lover's brother after her mother found them making love. Despite the fact that Nour's story does not occur in a courtroom nor is it found in a legal case, notions of Islamic and late Ottoman laws, cultures, and histories condition her narrative.

Festivals and screenings

  • 2019 Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance – ACT 3, Arnolfini, Bristol
  • 2018 Galeria Varmelho, São Paulo
  • 2016 Hordaland Art Center, Bergen Norway
  • 2016 The 11th XPOSED International Queer Film Festival, Berlin
  • 2016 PPOW Gallery, New York
  • 2016 Mercer Union, Toronto
  • 2016 Rotterdam Film Festival
  • 2015 A Decolonial Atlas: Videos from the Americas 2010-2015, Something Else – Off Cairo Biennale
  • 2015 They Will Remember Us in the Future, Academy Gallery, NAA, Sofia
  • 2015 Molodist, 45th Kiev International Film Festival
  • 2015 23 Festival Mix Brasil de Cultura da Diversidade, Sao Paulo
  • 2015 Queer Lisboa 19. Festival Internacional de Queer Cinema, Lisbon
  • 2015 Mor Charpentier Galerie, Paris
  • 2015 Göteborg International Biennial of Contemporary Art
  • 2015 Ashkal Alwan, Beirut

Deseos / رغبات
Video, 2015


  • Carlos Motta

Written with

  • Maya Mikdashi

Script Consultant

  • Pablo Bedoya


  • Maya Mikdashi (Nour)
  • Laura Riveros Sefair (Martina)


  • Maya Mikdashi (Nour)
  • Jennifer Lorena Jiménez (Martina)


  • Mateo Guzmán (Colombia)
  • Mark Khalife (Lebanon)

Video Editing

  • Carlos Motta

Video Editing Consultant

  • Irit Batsry

Sound Design

  • Zachary Dunham
  • Geoffrey Wilson

Line Producers

  • Julián Grijalba (Colombia)
  • Jowe Harfouche (Lebanon)

Post-Production and Color Correction

  • Margarida Lucas

Camera Assistants

  • Juan Carlos Bernal (Colombia)
  • Hatem Chayna (Lebanon)

Sound Recording

  • Carolina del Mar Fernández (Colombia)
  • Chadi Abi Chacra (Lebanon)
  • Ian Turner (Voices)

Production Assistants

  • Alexander Rozo (Colombia)
  • Houssam Abdallah (Lebanon)
  • Hadi Bou Ayash (Lebanon)


  • Osama Esber
  • Hazem Jamjoum
  • Maya Mikdashi
  • Carlos Motta
  • Cora Sueldo


  • Media Square

Commissioned and produced by

  • Council

On the occasion of

  • Manufacturing of Rights, Beirut, 2015

Co-produced by

  • Hordaland Kunstenster (Norway)
  • Malba, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Argentina)
  • Röda Sten Konsthall (Sweden)
  • Galeria Filomena Soares (Portugal)
  • Gallery Mor.Charpentier (France/Colombia)

Supported by

  • Ashkal Alwan (Lebanon)
  • DICRéAM (France)
  • Göteborg International Biennal for Contemporary Art (Sweden)

    Top image: Deseos / رغب, film still