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Otolith group: images from the camps

March 3, 2010 8:00 pm

This program is on the possible representation of Palestinian camps. it features an 8 mm film made by Nabil Kanafani in 1971 most probably in Nahr El Bared camp in north Lebanon, and excerpts from a wedding video filmed in the camp of Burj Al-Shemali in 1982, as well as nervus rerum, a video made in 2008 by otolith group in the camp of Jenin, Palestine.  The 8 mm film is made by an amateur hand and portrays the daily life of Palestinian refugees at a moment when they still harbored hope for a return in their homeland. The video of the wedding is shot by a friend of the late groom and capture a moment of joy and celebration, while nervus rerum is a constructed piece relying on texts by jean genet and Fernando Pessoa. It is an essay film shot in present time Jenin camp, made at a time of defeat and hopelessness.

The screening will be followed by an informal discussion on the historical visual material from the Palestinian refugee camps.

Refugee camp, 1971
By Nabil Kanafani
8 mm, 6 min., color, mute, 1971

Nabil Kanafani’s film is an archive which was recently found by his daughter Samar and is one among several films he made in the early ’70s. as an architect, he filmed this footage as part of a documentation on camps as urban spaces for a possible project of alternative housing for Palestinian refugees.

Untitled
Excerpt from a wedding in Burj Al-Shemali
cameraman not identified
video, approx. 6 min., color, 1982

nervus rerum
by otolith group
video, 32 min., color, sound, english vo, 2008

Taking as its subject the Jenin refugee camp in the Palestinian occupied territories, nervus rerum (2008) is a thirty-two-minute film by the London-based otolith group, commissioned by homeworks iv: a forum on cultural practices, which met in Beirut in 2007, and recently screened at Tate Britain in February 2009. Juxtaposing excerpts from the writings of Fernando Pessoa and jean genet with mystifying imagery of the west bank camp, the film builds on the artists’ remarkable otolith trilogy of 2003–2009, for which its two members, Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar, exploited the critical potential of the “essay film”—a distinctive mixture of documentary and dramatic imagery accompanied by poetic, historical, and often autobiographical narration that, in the tradition of such diverse filmmakers and groups as black audio film collective, Harun Farocki, Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker, and Anand Patwardhan, works to disrupt the clear boundaries between fact and fiction, subjectivity and objectivity, the real and the imaginary. in the process, the otolith group has invented inspiring new political and creative possibilities for filmmaking as critical and conceptual art.