Middle East

2005
Now promise now threat

“Now too late, he understood her. The heart that pumped out love, the mouth that spoke the Word, didn’t count.”

--Toni Morrison, “Beloved”

2014

O, Persecuted turns the act of restoring Kassem Hawal’s 1974 Palestinian Militant film Our Small Houses into a performance possible only through film. One that involves speed, bodies, and the movement of the past into a future that collides ideology with escapism.

1981
Polisario: Liberation of the Western Sahara

A historical analysis of the on-going war in the Western Sahara. Liza Bear interviews Abdullah Majdid, the Polisario Front's United Nations representative. The tape addresses Morocco's U.S.-backed military effort to subjugate the indigenous Sahrawi population and annex one of the world's largest phosphate deposits, as well as the Sahrawis' conditions for a referendum.

2007
(Posthume)

Following on from the 2006 Israeli aggression on Lebanon, the filmmaker tries to film the destruction of Beirut. We witness a city deserted by life, and ghostly characters who, featured in his earlier films, talk about living through such a war.

This title is only available on Radical Closure.

2010
Radical Closure

Curated by Lebanese video artist Akram Zaatari, and originally presented by the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Radical Closure features works produced in response to situations of physical or ideological closure resulting from war and territorial conflicts. The program looks at what is known as the Middle East, and how the moving image has functioned throughout its history, charged with division, political tension, and mobilization.

2010
House Hold, Guy Ben-Ner

This first program deals with stories of captivity. To start, Hostage: The Bachar tapes by Walid Raad presents us with an imagined hostage presumably held in custody along with the American hostages in Lebanon during the 1980’s. Raad’s work reflects on the invention and communication of stories about abduction, insisting on the families’ unity in the face of threats, and reads through the fears and sexual fantasies of the kidnapped Americans who are held in the same cell with a Lebanese man.

2010
(Posthume) (Posthumous), Ghassan Salhab

This program presents different approaches to looking at war, and to using images of war. My Friend Imad and the Taxi is an unfinished work from two amateur filmmakers, both passionate about film, who lived in Beirut in the eighties when the city looked like the set from a war film. Samir’s work looks at the intersection between (H)istory and (h)is story as lived at home.

2010
Detail, Avi Mograbi

Border situations have inspired writers, artists and filmmakers, particularly within the context of divisions and border control within the Middle East. Who draws the borders? What are the effects of imposing them, of imposing checkpoints? This program looks at border situations. In the works presented here, we take a close look at the lines of demarcation, observing what happens on borders in divided Lefkosia (Nicosia), the occupied territories in Palestine, and at the excavation of the site of a former border in Lebanon which no longer exists.

2010
Intensive Care, Hatice Güleryüz

Named after Hatice Güleryüz’s haunting short film, with its disturbing yet iconic images, this program presents unsettling situations narrated with both considerable emotional investment and critical distance. In her work Intensive Care, Güleryüz films a boy’s circumcision, then tilt’s up to the boy’s silent, angelic face. In another work, The First Ones, she films a group of school children singing the national anthem; a take on nationalism made with so much love.

2010
Birthday Suit with scars and defects, Lisa Steele

How useful is personal testimony to History? The most abstract of all the works that focus on personal narrative in this program is certainly Lisa Steele’s Birthday Suit with scars and defects, in which the artist gently caresses every scar on her body, names it, dates it, and describes the circumstances in which the scar was inscribed. These are traces that defy memory, and that indeed become an alternative memory. Steele’s video presents us with an abstraction of oneself, almost a schema of the body as it becomes a register of violence.

2002
RE: THE_OPERATION

Based on a set of drawings that depict George W. Bush's administration as wounded soldiers in the war against terrorism, RE:THE_OPERATION explores the sexual and philosophical dynamics of war through the lives of the members as they physically engage each other and the "enemy". Letters, notes, and digital snapshots "produced" by the members on their tour of duty become the basis of video portraits that articulate the neuroses and obsessions compelling them toward an infinite war.

2000
Red Chewing Gum

Red Chewing Gum is a video letter that tells a story of separation between two men, set within the context of the changing Hamra, a formerly booming commercial center. The video looks at image making in relationship to consumption and the possession of desired subjects. It examines issues of desire and power, and the attempt to capture fleeting time.

2008
Silent Among Us

Shot in a local Natural History Museum in northern Israel. 100 white doves fly around cabinets of stuffed birds and other animals. This is a symbol of a culture which is unwilling to let the past go, and lives so naturally with the dead. They stand in silence, but fully present, as we continue living.

Note: This title is intended by the artist to be viewed in High Definition. While DVD format is available to enable accessibility, VDB recommends presentation on Blu-ray or HD digital file.

2007
Six Years Later

Ireland, October 20th 2007

The filmmaker returns to the city where he made the first video in the series and looks back at the events of the past six years.

Six Years Later is the eighth episode in the Hotel Diaries series, a collection of video recordings made in the world’s hotel rooms, which relate personal experiences and reflections to contemporary conflicts in the Middle East.

2008
Skim Milk & Soft Wax

Skim Milk & Soft Wax explores Jewish identity from the point of view of the American filmmaker, who was raised to believe that Israel is the "land of milk and honey". However, the realities of her personal experiences of Israel collide with that Edenic image. Instead, the state of Israel is complex, shape shifting, and often disappointing. Therefore: skim milk - a substance of reduced nutritional value, but which still lives in the name of "milk". And wax, the stuff of religious offerings, which is always ready to change its shape.