Carlos Motta, Artist

(2015) Deseos / رغبات

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.

Installation view at Mor Charpentier Galerie, Paris, 2015

GIBCA 2015
Installation view at Gothenburg International Biennial of Contemporary Art (GIBCA), 2015


A video by
Carlos Motta

Written by
Maya Mikdashi and Carlos Motta

Commissioned and Produced by
Council (France)

Co-Produced by
Hordaland Kunstsenter (Norway)
MALBA, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Röda Sten Konsthall (Sweden)

Co-Produced by
Galeria Filomena Soares (Portugal)
Mor.Charpentier Galerie (France)

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

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 and 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

The 11th XPOSED International Queer Film Festival, Berlin 
PPOW Gallery, New York, 2016
Mercer Union, Toronto, 2016
Rotterdam Film Festival, 2016
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, 2015