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From Behind the Monument

007 / 8 May 2014

This is a short film about a relationship between the image, the spectacle and the spectator: the confrontation between the audience and the image. The narrative is built around a story of a street called Mohamed Mahmoud and the battle that happened there between the protesters and the riot police in 2011 in Egypt. This film is an essay that speaks about the aftermath of an event creating a third reality for an understanding of what happened. It is not the street, the TV screen, but the reality of an abstracted space, such as a museum that allows for a different reflection and submission to a story that by itself creates a new form of representation. This story is about how political images are turned into spectacles of the reality and how representation fails to go beyond its nature. It is also about an attempt to become an active participant in the event and the fear of touching the unknown. In the aftermath, we all become the spectators.



Fragment of the voice over:


Exhibit B (Conversation between an image and a spectacle)


Image: I exist in parallel to the reality. Sometimes I am turned into the interpreter of the surrounding, but I have a life of my own, once detached from the reality I can be put back in motion. With your help I can become misinterpreted or reinvented.


Spectacle: I agree. There is a sense of totality in the nature of my existence. I embody everything. I interlace both the reality and image as they serve as active agents in the creation of a third mode that is not in contradiction with you or the reality that you depict.


Image: I do not only re-present, but sometimes I am described as an analogical system of codes. I don't like to be reduced to the language form with its comparisons. I can go beyond the signifiers and their implications and fail to mimic the reality with its illusions.

Spectacle: But where does the meaning begin and where does it end?

Image: It starts with every glimpse. Each time I am put in motion, when I am being looked at, discovered. I deliver a nonlinear narrative with no temporal or linguistic restrictions to this participation. It comes and goes with every gaze. When does the spectacle begin?

Spectacle: The world consists of real actions and their manifestations (spectacles) that occur at a given timeframe and space within a social order. The real wold is not something that I compliment or reduce into something else. I take over the image and its audience and place them in the third mode of existence. The third mode reveals itself within a series of manifestations driven by the society's urgency to surround itself by the real unreality. This unreality can by doubled, tripled, multiplied as long as I exist. As long as you exist.

About the author

Jasmina Metwaly

Jasmina Metwaly (EG/PL) is a visual artist and filmmaker based in Cairo, co-founder of 8784 h project and a founding member of Mosireen video collective (www.youtube.com//Mosireen). She studied painting in Poznan where she focused on time-based works with strong correlations to painting. She is interested in the points of intersection/division between single-channel image, video and documentary filmmaking. Metwaly's work has been exhibited locally and at international art venues and festivals including Townhouse Gallery, Cairo; 7th Berlin Biennale, Berlin; International Film Festival Rotterdam 2012, Rotterdam; Kings Gate, London; Virtual Museum CASZuidas, Amsterdam, BWA, Wroclaw; amongst others.

Metwaly's own work is time-based with strong correlations and cross-references to painting. Her work also challenges the language of documentary activism. Being culturally, mentally and geographically suspended between several locations her works contextualize and question the form in which the image occurs.