we began by measuring distance
PALESTINE, EGYPT / 2009 / Arabic / Color / Blu-ray (SD) / 19 min
Director, Photography, Editing, Source: Basma Alsharif
There is a mysterious group that measures physical distances between Rome and Geneva, Gaza and Jerusalem, and the measured figures are indicated. This work then shows the process by which those figures gradually gain political meaning. By making the “voice of god” narration cover the familiar images of Palestine, the complicated nationalism of the land is spotlighted. Layers of rich sound and text are intertwined, while images that carry continuity soon bring us toward the fables of Palestine.
[Director’s Statement] My work explores political issues through codes I create within the visual frame for reading the content. Ideas of illusion and disillusion, of truth and conspiracy, of facts and history, manifest themselves in my work through various forms. There is never one central point of focus. What I explore through these issues is creating a language and a space for the various ways in which material information can be read and finding ways of experiencing information rather than understanding it.
I have relied on the environments I live in and experiences I have to influence and drive the pieces I make. I look at the unwritten language of how a landscape or urban environment functions: what defines and constitutes a place, how individuals relate to one another within and in relation to it. I use language, sound, video, film, text, and photography as formal structures that delineate how the narrative will function and how it can be manipulated, and I experiment with representations of history and politics in relation to personal identity and the subjective experience.
I am interested in the space between public and private, between the political and personal, between fiction and fantasy. I am interested in words becoming images, images becoming material, and sound driving the various layers of a work to reveal itself. Most important in my practice is the drive to displace the work from any particular place, culture, or even medium. To take a specific political issue, a particularly loaded image, banal footage, or poetic piece of text and to turn all of this into material, undefined, and to create new information from how the disparate elements come together.
Basma Alsharif, born in 1983, is a visual artist working with moving and still image, sound, and language. She received an MFA from the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois, Chicago, in 2007 and has been working in Cairo, Beirut, and Amman since then. Her work has shown in numerous exhibitions and film festivals, including Forum Expanded: Berlinale (2011) and the Toronto International Film Festival (2010).