Gnawa Capoeira Brothahood (2023)

Hassan Hajjaj
Gnawa Capoeira Brothahood
Single-channel video
90 minutes
Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation
Courtesy of the artist


Hassan Hajjaj’s visual compositions are a constant evocation of his multicultural upbringing and the relationships he has developed through traversing cultural backgrounds. The documentary film Gnawa Capoeira Brothahood (2023) makes explicit the shared root of the two titular practices—the imperialist slave trade. Originated by enslaved people and rooted in Sufi-Islamic beliefs, Gnawa involves a communal performance of religious songs, rhythms, dance and ritual poetry. Meanwhile, Capoeira, of Brazilian origin, historically incorporated dance and music to disguise its martial context and preserve the slaves’ cultural identity. Though separated by the Atlantic ocean, the two forms share a history, aesthetic and artistic impulse.