USAMA ALSHAIBI (DIRECTOR)
TAYSIR BATNIJI (DIRECTOR)
ZOULIKHA BOUABDELLAH (DIRECTOR)
FREDERIQUE DEVAUX (DIRECTOR)
MOUNIR FATMI (DIRECTOR)
LAMYA GARGASH (DIRECTOR)
WAëL NOUREDDINE (DIRECTOR)
JAYCE SALLOUM (DIRECTOR)
NASSIM AMAOUCHE (DIRECTOR)
AL FADHIL (DIRECTOR)
JOUDE GORANI (DIRECTOR)
KATIA KAMELI (DIRECTOR)
BOUCHRA KHALILI (DIRECTOR)
NESRINE KHODR (DIRECTOR)
PAULINE M'BAREK (DIRECTOR)
ZINEB SEDIRA (DIRECTOR)
JALAL TOUFIC (DIRECTOR)
DANIELLE ARBID (DIRECTOR)
FABIAN ASTORE (DIRECTOR)
MIREILLE ASTORE (DIRECTOR)
ISMAIL BAHRI (DIRECTOR)
HALIDA BOUGHRIET (DIRECTOR)
KHALED HAFEZ (DIRECTOR)
WAHEEDA MALULLAH (DIRECTOR)
LARISSA SANSOUR (DIRECTOR)
PRESS RELEASE :
Urgent, necessary, those eight films, as different as they may be, share a common aesthetics of confusion: they express the brutality sometimes needed to give birth to an image in some places
and about some themes. But the worst thing is that those 8 films are wonderful - LIBERATION
A hybrid cinema that could influence some western filmmakers. - ZEUXIS MAGAZINE
- FROM CONTEMPORARY PRACTICES BY Silke Schmickl
a collection of
experimental film and video art from the Middle East and North Africa
RESISTANCE[S] is an editorial research project initiated by Paris-based film label Lowave in 2005. It was sparked by the discovery of a growing number of outstanding video works and experimental films made by artists and filmmakers from or with roots in the Middle East and North Africa. At that time only a few French distributors and festivals (such as Heure Exquise or Les Instants Video) carried these works and we became interested in learning more about this emerging video art scene and its blooming creativity.
ExpÈrimentations dans les avant-gardes arabes
(Experimentations in the Arab avant-garde), a film survey organized by Nicole Brenez and MichËle Hadria-Cohen for the French CinemathËque in 2005, constituted one of the first major film events dedicated to the region and served as a starting point for our research. A number of artists presented on this occasion, such as Jayce Salloum, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Mounir Fatmi and Taysir Batniji, whose works were subsequently included in our first DVD released in 2006. This significant event depicted an active film scene that had no explicit experimental film tradition despite a rich local film history. The lack of historic references and associated visual imprints gave the artists total freedom to develop their own visual language.
In the RESISTANCE[S] collection we observed numerous references to other art forms specific to the Arab visual tradition, such as the suggestion of calligraphy captured by the skillful and playful use of embedded text in WaÎl Noureddine’s «a sera beau. From Beirut with Love, Mounir Fatmi’s May God forgive me, Basma Al Sharif’s We began by measuring distance and IsmaÔl Bahri’s Resonances, or the use of abstract Islamic patterns in Usama Alshaibi’s Allahu Akbar. Other films such as K3, Les femmes by FrÈdÈrique Devaux, Nouba by Katia Kameli (both shot in super-8), and Bouchra Khalili’s Straight Stories. Part 2, make use of the film/video material itself by distorting recorded reality. Filmmakers Danielle Arbid and Al Fadhil manipulate found footage material, such as an anonymous super-8 reel found in a flea market in Beyrouth (in the case of Danielle Arbid’s This smell of sex) or TV images (used in Al Fadhil’s Iraqi Brothers. Amer & Nasser). Works by Mireille and Fabian Astore (3494 Houses +1 Fence) or Waheeda Mallulah (Colored photograph) are based on photography and innovative animation. Videos by Zineb Sedira (Don’t do to her what you did to me) and Lamya Gargash (Wet tiles) are inspired by traditional rituals and create an emblematic atmosphere as does Nesrine Khodr’s short video haiku I swam in the sea last week. Larissa Sansour’s Run Lara Run, Halida Boughriet’s Les illumines and Zoulika Bouabdellah’s Dansons stage the artists themselves in captivating performances shot in Palestine and Paris respectively. A political engagement can be found in Jayce Salloum’s Untitled Part 3b: (As If) Beauty Never Ends.., Taysir Batniji’s Transit, Jalal Toufic’s Saving Face, or Khaled Hafez’ Revolution, where political issues are discussed with a more direct and documentary style. The collection features a strong selection of documentaries by Nassim Amaouche (A few crumbs for the birds), Pauline M’Barek (GÈographie imaginaire), Nazim DejmaÔ (La parade de Taos) and Joude Gorani (Before vanishing) are characterized by their unorthodox storytelling and very personal approaches towards cultural, social, political and ecological subjects.
Poetry can be found in many of the selected films. As CÈdric Vincent wrote in his critical analysis accompanying the second volume of the RESISTANCE[S] collection, the importance of the acoustic, visual and textual treatment that characterizes the works in the collection evokes an analogy between contemporary film and video art and literature movements. During the beginning of the 20
th century, poets and novelists were among the more radical critics within the Arab world and many of them took an active role in the emerging socialist and feminist political movements. As video has become more and more accessible it has effectively acquired many of the qualities of pen and paper: a handy medium, portable and if necessary, disposable, that has the ability to condense and express political situations in a personal manner.
RESISTANCE[S] does not pretend to constitute a complete archive of Arab experimental film productions. Given the current explosion in creative energy and art production, we know that recounting the entire history of moving images is no longer possible unless we renounce once and for all the principle of acknowledging the entire corpus of filmmaking (cf. Good Vibrations by Nicole Brenez, in Springerin, January 2010). Many important names are missing in the three programs we released between 2006 and 2010 and the collection will continue to grow in order to follow the emergence of new trends and talent and to pay homage to the major actors in this genre. Our curatorial choice for the RESISTANCE[S] collection is personal and based on an intuitive approach that emerges during the long and intense viewing and selection process.
However our hope is that this film collection will contribute to a better understanding and visibility of these works and artists and underscore the importance and originality of cinematography within contemporary Arab art. Created by emerging and established artists from a variety of cultural and disciplinary backgrounds, all of these intimate, poetic and documentary works are witness to the region’s complexity and vitality and the diversity of creative energies found there. Distanced from the usual stereotypes, the artists aim to explore the existential, political and aesthetic issues of our times while opening up to new narrative perspectives that break with our media’s monotonous and repetitive imagery.
The film programs were conceived from the beginning as a coherent collection, and analogies and echoes can be found across the three DVDs. The chronology of the different volumes allows the viewer to observe changes that occurred in video art productions over the last five years. If the first volume attacks political and social situations in the countries of origin in a very direct and sometimes provocative or rebellious way (for instance in the works of WaÎl Noureddine’s or Mounir Fatmi), the third volume is characterized by a more subtle and poetic approach. One can feel in the later works that the art scene has become more established and the artists are more comfortably positioned on the international art scene. The large number of exhibitions and publications dedicated to contemporary artists from Arabic countries are further evidence of this phenomenon. The strong development of video documentaries, analyzed for example in Khaled Ramadan’s article Contemporary audiovisual tendencies in the Middle East and North Africa (Contemporary practices, Vol. IV, 2009) is another aspect that can be observed in the different RESISTANCE[S] programs. Films like A few crumbs for the birds, Before Vanishing or La parade de Taos illustrate a new liberty and inventiveness adopted by the filmmakers and which can be described as a new film genre, the creative documentary, where the traditional form and storytelling is challenged and revived.
The originality of the RESISTANCE[S] project has also found an echo in the distribution of the films. The different volumes (individually or selections from the three DVDs) have been shown publicly in numerous international art venues, film institutes and festivals. Screenings have been held at the British Film Institute in London, the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Kunsthalle D¸sseldorf, the Museet for Samtidskunst in Roskilde, Det Danske Filminstitut in Copenhagen, the Cinemathek in Oslo, the 3rd Guangzhou Triennial, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Les Instants VidÈo in Marseille and the Aurora Festival in Norwich, to mention just a few examples. These public events also offered the possibility to meet the artists and hold roundtable discussions with curators, such as Catherine David, and film critics. In this sense, RESISTANCE[S] is more than a DVD collection or a video archive and has tried to stimulate an ongoing artistic and intellectual exchange among the artists, curators, writers, critics and an international and engaged audience. It has also led to the upcoming production of new video works by Lowave: Ma mËre, David et moi by Taysir Batniji and Nuits blanches (working title) by Pauline M’Barek. Other projects linked to the collection are currently in preparation and are expected to culminate in an exhibition in 2011.
The collection’s title was inspired from a text written by Gilles Deleuze in 1972, Pourparler. There he says: "Creating is not communicating, but resisting […] art is what resists: it resists against death, servitude, infamy, shame." We felt that this vision of art and resistance was perceptible in all of the RESISTANCE[S] videos and summed up the artists’ commitments, whether political, social or purely visual. The pluralistic notion of resistance with an "s" became thus the leitmotif of the collection.
RESISTANCE[S] is developed and curated by Lowave art director Silke Schmickl and Lebanese musician Christine Sehnaoui. Each volume is subtitled in English, French and German and enriched with biographies, commentary by the filmmakers, and texts written by French critics CÈdric Vincent and Olivier Hadouchi as well as the curators.
Lowave is an independent film label founded in 2002 to promote experimental film and contemporary video art and make them accessible beyond the film festival and gallery circuit. Lowave explores ideas around artists’ moving image practice through publishing, distribution, exhibition and research. The catalogue features around 150 artists with varied backgrounds working with different techniques and multiple modes of expression. Alongside historic figures such as Marguerite Duras, Maurice LemaÓtre and Takahiko Iimura, Lowave has put forward some of the most important young artists from around the world.
Nicole Brenez in Springerin
Lowave: good vibrations
From the source: to the jubilation of film lovers, we are witnessing an explosion in creative energy and production. Historians know that recounting the entire history of moving images is no longer possible, unless we renounce once and for all the principle of acknowledging the entire corpus of filmmaking.
On the receiving end: screening venues are spread all over the place. Movie theatres are no longer dominant. Moving images infiltrate wherever they can; in galleries, museums, homes, streets, all types of spaces both private and public including the virtual space of the Internet.
So we’re faced with a reason to celebrate plus two problems: cinephiles feel the need to breathe within this ocean of images; artists find it increasingly difficult to gain recognition beyond their own informal networks. There is a lack of professionals capable of discerning, defending, exposing and preserving film as art. This is where the DVD label, Lowave, through its remarkable work of picking out, publishing, and putting forward new talent, gains its importance and pertinence. Created in 2001 in Paris, France by an American, Marc Horchler, and a German, Silke Schmickl, Lowave is truly international. Their exemplary activity as a video publisher has included artists from many backgrounds, working with different techniques (film and digital video) and multiple modes of expression from abstract experimental films to militant documentaries. Alongside historical figures such as Maurice LemaÓtre (a French Lettrist artist and filmmaker, lieutenant to Isidore Isou), Taka Iimura (a Japanese video pioneer), and Helga Fanderl (a German master of Super-8), Lowave has put forward some of the most important young artists from around the world including from China, South Africa, Iraq, Finland, and Palestine. Amongst the most notable include the Norwegian HC Gilje, the Japanese Yuki Kawamura, the Moroccan Mounir Fatmi, the French Johanna Vaude, the Italians Massimilian and Nina Breeder and the Lebanese Jalal Toufic. But there are also entire new worlds of images to discover:
Re†:Frame†Scanning Time / Documenting Change is the very first selection
of the most audacious contemporary visual proposals in India.
Lowave presents us with a summary of the fascinating and vibrant world of contemporary artistic creation. Their catalogue includes video artists Corinna Schnitt, Pierre-Yves Cruaud, and Triny Prada; filmmaker Francoise Romand; contemporary artist Malachi Farrell; performance and installation artists Pushpamala N and Marina Chernikova; photographers Laurie Simmons and Taysir Batniji, the Raqs Media Collective media practitioners, and audiovisual artists Rodolphe Burger and Project_Singe. To the delight of researchers, the range of new styles and approaches covered continues to expand from Hugo Verlinde’s sensual algorithmic cinema to Zoulikha Bouabdellah’s incisive and jubilatory satire.
The Lowave DVD catalogue includes different types of video publications: monographic or polygraphic such as the DVD series Different Cinema, made in collaboration with the Collectif Jeune CinÈma, one of the oldest experimental film co-ops in France whose co-founders include the film curator Marcel MazÈ and the film critic RaphaÎl Bassan. In this series of 3 volumes,
one can find Marguerite Duras skirting alongside two generations of experimental filmmakers
. With their series Resistance(s), Silke Schmickl and the musician Christine Sehnaoui have accomplished a major achievement by giving avant-garde Arab filmmakers, from an ignored yet vast field of contemporary art (there’s an urgent need to have these voices heard), the recognition that they deserve. Some of the most important political and artistic films of this decade can be found on Resistance(s) including those by Jayce Salloum, Taysir Batniji, Nassim Amaouche, Zineb Sedira, Pauline M’Barek, Mounir Fatmi, Katia Kameli and of course the theoritician and videomaker Jalal Toufic, still underecognized in Europe.
The important artists at work series aims to document the creation of installation and performance art within public spaces: with Felice Varini, Laurent Pariente, Malachi Farrell amongt the first artists to be included since 2007. By raising awareness of the production process, Lowave is including the epheremal within the art record, invaluable to both curators and historians. Lowave is increasingly taking on the role of curator for specific programmes across the world allowing its director, Silke Schmickl, to weave recent works published by the label with older references in order to establish visual echos between classical and contemporary artists, film and video, established approaches and recent breakthroughs in performing, musical and visual arts.
Lowave’s DVDs present us with high quality images and sound, multi-lingual subtitles, and bonuses allowing us to hear the artists’ own viewpoints and reflections on their work. The interviews are usually produced by Lowave, but sometimes by other artists such as GÈrard Courant who presents his portrait of Mounir Fatmi issued from his famous CinÈmatons series.
Is this mix of styles, media, and hybrid techniques leading us to a form of chaotic eclecticism or disorganized ecumenism? Quite the contrary, by having been brought together under the Lowave label, these films, as different as they are from one another, suddenly begin to resonate with each other. We see for example that the dream-like floral world of Yuki Kawamura shares some of its chromatic and textural choices with that of the roaring energy of HC Gilje’s Cityscapes. Or inversely, we can observe that the same simple and eternal subject, the body of a dancing woman, is treated very differently by the French artist Rozenn Nobilet, the German artist Egbert Mittlest‰dt, and the French-Algerian artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah despite the facts that they are working at the same time with almost the same tools. Emerging from these very concrete and precise comparisons are the means to define and describe a visual culture.
By examining the foundation of skilled creativity onto which Lowave’s catalogue is based, some trends seem to emerge: the simultaneous creation of both sound and image; the work on urban landscapes; the dissipation of the human form.
With its highly respected DVD catalogue, its activities in distribution, production and curating, Lowave is a reference for today’s cinephiles and video art followers. Upcoming DVDs published by Lowave will feature contemporary African (Influx) and Turkish video art (Conditioned) as well as a third edition of the Resistance(s) collection