When Things Occur
By Oraib Toukan (2016)
When Things Occur is based on Skype conversations with Gaza inhabitants who were behind the images that were transmitted from screen to screen in the summer of 2014. The film probes the face of mourning and grief—its digital embodiment, transmission, and representation. It asks how the gaze gets channeled within the digital realm, and how empathy travels. What exactly is viewing suffering ‘at a distance’? What is the behaviour and political economy of the image of war? And who is the ‘local’ in the representation of war?
When Things Occur is so compelling due to its update of the urgency to re-engage with the question of the image as a geopolitical issue for the Palestinian cause. Its image-regimes offer a contested terrain as well as a lived reality and politics of the domestic in which ‘nobody will understand how we are living’, as Gaza international photojournalist and blogger Lara Abu Ramadan states in her conversation with Oraib Toukan. The 28 minute desktop-video investigates and labours the techno-spatial conditions of image processing. It considers the particular situation of Gaza after the 2014-wars entangled with global infrastructures. Thus it provides an important analysis of a visually exhausted and exploited terrain that has been overproduced by media images for decades, by Human Rights discourses as well as by the field of international contemporary art, the arena where When Things Occur is presented.
By Rabih Mroue (2012)
The video shows the performative reenactment of an existing 83-second YouTube video that the Lebanese artist calls ‘Double Shooting‘ and which depicts a Syrian regime sniper aiming his rifle at the cameraman and shooting. By reconstructing the original cellphone video and then dissecting the document in an extreme way, Rabih Mroue offers a fascinating re-reading of the images that have been recorded during the Syrian revolution but also demonstrates a failed attempt to catch the last image perceived by the deceased person.
I’m not the one who recorded or produced them. And this came out of my belief that it’s now very difficult for artists to produce images, especially with the glut of imagery in the media. The question seems simple enough: What images can artists produce and is it possible to confront these images that we receive every day with yet more images that we produce? And I agree with some intellectuals that maybe the role of artists and even intellectuals is not to produce images but to take iconic images and try to deconstruct them. To ‘de-sacralize’ them. (…)
The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, & 27 Years without Images
By Eric Baudelaire (2011)
Few artists have shifted from revolutionary imagination to revolutionary action like Masao Adachi, a collaborator with both the Japanese New Wave and the Japanese Red Army. A scriptwriter and colleague of Nagisa Oshima and Koji Wakamatsu, and a director of left-wing sex films, Adachi abandoned commercial filmmaking — and Japan — entirely in 1974 to join the extremist Japanese Red Army in exile in Beirut, where the group gained fame through deadly hijackings and bombings in support of a free Palestine and a worldwide Communist revolution. Also in Beirut was the group's founder Fusako Shigenobu and her daughter May, who lived incognito for years. A film on exile, revolution, landscapes and memory, The Anabasis... brings forth the remarkable parallel stories of Adachi and May, one a filmmaker who gave up images, the other a young woman whose identity-less existence forbade keeping images of her own life. Fittingly returning the image to their lives, director Eric Baudelaire places Adachi and May's revelatory voiceover reminiscences against warm, fragile Super-8mm footage of their split milieus, Tokyo and Beirut. Grounding their wide-ranging reflections in a solid yet complex reality, The Anabasis... provides a richly rewarding look at a fascinating, now nearly forgotten era (in politics and cinema), reminding us of film's own ability to portray — and influence — its landscape
by Johan Grimonprez (1997)
We meet the romantic skyjackers who fought their revolutions and won airtime on the passenger planes of the 1960’s. By the 1990s, such characters apparently are no more, replaced on our TV screens by stories of state-sponsored suitcase bombs. Director Johan Grimonprez investigates the politics behind this change, at the same time unwrapping our own complicity in the urge for ultimate disaster. Playing on Don DeLillo’s riff in the novel MAO II: ‘what terrorists gain, novelists lose’ and ‘home is a failed idea’, he blends archive hijackings with surreal and banal themes including fast food, pet statistics, disco and his quirky home movies. David Shea wrote the superb soundtrack to this roller coaster through history, best described in the words of one hijacked Pepsi executive as: “running the gamut of many emotions: from surprise to shock, to fear, to joy, to laughter and then again, fear.”