The Revolution is not a Virgin
Sunday 17 February 2019, 7:30pm
UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art
322 Union Ave. Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NY 11211
“Silence is argument carried out by other means.”These words are prevailingly credited to Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara conjuring multifarious images that may include resistance, defiance, poise. In contrast ‘revolution’ conjures images of chaos, urgency. The revolution, after all, is messy, noisy; it can be didactic and wordy. In some ways, a revolution-proper has no other recourse but to follow the dictum of amplification: maximum visibility and increased circulation. Silence, as resistance carried out by other means, in contrast, rests upon another principal. It can, amongst other things, be against (vocal) expansion. And yet it’s a scream.
The decibels of this silent scream can be measured affectively in the gaps of expression by the artists presented here: in what is not shown; in what is not said. It sits in the punchy, provocative back surge of Have You Ever Killed a Bear? Or Becoming Jamila, Marwa Arsanios’ video commenting playfully on the romanticized figure of the female martyr and the exoticisation of the Arab freedom fighter in the on-going ‘selling’ (image circulation) of war and violence. It is expressed in My Name is Foreigner, Cana Bilir-Meier’s film that resists the spectacle of deadly self-harm. Bilir-Meier instead presents fragments taken from around 350 poems by the late Semra Ertan – a 25-year old Turkish migrant who in 1982 set herself alight in protest of German xenophobia. Rettungsgriffe, an assemblage of 16mm found footage by Nina Kreuzinger may suggest the most accurate metaphor on the prevailingly fraught East/West, North/South relations: the negotiation between the bodies that rescue and those rescued. Meanwhile, In Hell, Sean Bonney’s words fly like bullets describing his wholesomely apocalyptic thoughts on Brexit: consummately “worried but outwardly calm”. In another kind of performance to camera titled What Actually Does the Artist Want, Şener Özmen’s attempts to be heard are drowned by the invasive drone of fighter jets. Hadi Fallahpisheh’s live performance, Truth has Four Legs, delivers humour on a knife’s edge stunning his audience into empathic silence. Performing with man-sized photographic scrolls he calls “restaged documents”, Fallahpisheh narrates an immigrants’ experience, temporarily marooned in Republican heartland during the 2016 US presidential election. – Minou Norouzi
In an introduction and post-screening discussion, filmmaker and programmer Minou Norouzi will discuss the evening’s contributions with Hadi Fallahpisheh and Evan Calder Williams in relation to his forthcoming book A Theory Of Sabotage (Verso) and her current research project Revolutionary Patience: The Ethics of Non-interventionist Documentary Encounters, also included as part of the College Art Association, CAA 107th Annual Conference.
Co-curated by Minou Norouzi and Pınar Öğrenci in collaboration with UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art, New York.