domingo, 20 de junho de 2010

Runa Islam

Obra: How far to Farö?

Runa Islam

Pessoal, peço desculpas pelo texto estar escrito em inglês mas não encontrei informações em português sobre ela e por ser muito longo, fica difícil traduzir. Espero que talvez recursos como Google Tradutor ajude a sanar esse problema!


When actress Elisabet Vogler, one of the two protagonists of Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 classic film Persona, decides to stop speaking she is advised to take some time off at the seaside. Together with Alma, a private nurse played by Bibi Andersson, she ends up in a summer house on the rocky coast of Farö, a deserted island in the archipelago of Stockholm where Bergman has been living since the early sixties and where several of his films were shot. Elisabet’s deliberate muteness, and her retreat to Farö, can be read as attempts to isolate herself from her surroundings by simply refusing to interact with them. At the same time, she can’t help but pick up on signals from those same surroundings. The ongoing confrontation with Alma and radio broadcasts of Bach make for intimate psychological encounters with herself and those closest to her, while the world at large comes in through two significant ‘borrowed’ sources. Before leaving for Farö, Elisabet watches TV in her hospital room. The television set is filmed showing documentary footage of anti-war protestors in Vietnam, followed by images of the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk: highly topical at the time Persona was filmed. The images are inter-cut with close-ups of Elisabet’s horrified face. The second documentary ‘insert’ is historical: when Elisabet opens a book a photograph (that probably functioned as a bookmarker) falls out. What follows is a sequence of details of the photograph that turns out to be one of the most enduring images of the Holocaust: seven-year old Tsvi Nussbaum raising his hands as Nazi soldiers force Warsaw ghetto dwellers to surrender after their May 1943 rebellion. Both scenes are accompanied by a dramatic musical underscore by Lars Johan Werle, intensifying the visual experience.

These drastic formal juxtapositions, in fact documentary inserts in fictional frameworks, recall Martha Rosler’s 1967 collage series Bringing the War Home, in which Rosler intricately inserts journalistic still images of the war in Vietnam into cut-outs from lifestyle magazines. In both Bergman and Rosler's position the territories of documentary and fiction still seem clearly divided and connotated. The fictional is associated with middle class decadence, the documentary with the (victory of) truth and (consequent) moral superiority.

Runa Islam’s How Far to Farö consists of three large-scale video images projected onto three joined, free-standing screens. Each screen measures about 3 x 4 metres and reaches to the floor. The three screens are positioned at a slight angle to one another, so that the suite of projected images becomes a sculptural entity rather than a two-dimensional construct. The monumental character of the imagery, the fact that the piece as a whole is a loop and that the three screens disable primary identification with each individual image, further enhances the strong physical quality of this set of moving images. The piece is structured as a series of short scenes that are divided by intervals, during which the screens turn black. All the scenes combined have a duration of just over thirteen minutes, each scene a triple-sequence of meticulously framed, lit and timed images, all with a certain thematic and/or formal coherence. How Far to Farö could be seen as a road movie, capturing the travels of a film-crew sailing from Stockholm to Farö. Most of its images are panning or dolly shots, making for a slow, deliberate pace. Islam carefully scans, not only all dimensions of her physical surroundings (sky, earth, wind-directions), but also all elements present: the ocean, the vessel, a forest on an island where the crew makes a stop-over, the film-crew and its equipment, the process of image production, and the artist herself. At the same time, Islam seems to go through great lengths to avoid any deeper identification with these elements. Actors and crew members are seen in a blink, out of focus, or positioned partially out of the frame. Sometimes their shadow is the only proof of their presence. The ship’s monumental architecture appears in details only, giving no clue to its entire volume. The camera’s angle remains narrow, on the ocean, in the forest. Only once does Islam allow herself to be tempted by the visual splendour of Stockholm’s archipelago, inserting a short but breathtaking wide angle shot of the bay and its islands. Thus How Far to Farö is a story of a virtually face-less crew setting out to film an un-scripted film, on their way to an island that’s never reached.

Islam’s suggestive images appear simultaneously reduced and dramatic. They are obviously staged, but whether they were staged to appear as documentary or fictional remains open. Where Bergman used the emptiness of Farö as a metaphor in his highly constructed narrative, Islam avoids interpretation of any kind, creating another sort of emptiness. The non-committal blandness of her compelling imagery seems by its negation to reflect upon the crisis in contemporary image production and interpretation.

Most of the 500,000 rickshaw pullers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, are countryside migrants; the families they left behind often depend fully on their income. They face internal struggles fighting off competition and crime. At the same time, Dhaka’s government tries to ban them from main roads, blaming them for the cities endless traffic jams.
The First Day of Spring was filmed in Dhaka in 2004, when Islam returned to her place of birth for the first time in 23 years. It can best be described as a group portrait constructed almost entirely out of slow tracking shots around and in the midst of a group of motionless rickshaw wallahs resting on their bicycles. As in How Far to Farö, Islam clearly indicates floor (the dusty ground under the rickshaw’s wheels), ceiling (the sky seen through a roof of leaves), and all sides of her location. She takes several points of view, ending in a series of close-ups of each individual character, before watching them drive off into the evening sun. In contrast to How Far to Farö however, in The First Day of Spring the protagonists are being placed ‘centre stage’ as Islam puts it: ‘One is more used to looking at their necks than at their faces’1. The intense visual gratification of the footage is thematised, not avoided, and while there is no narrative as such, the way Islam positioned and filmed her subjects makes for a highly stylised, seemingly rehearsed and fictional whole.

Runa Islam makes film and video installations that use overlapping layers of narrative to explore notions of truth and fiction, subjectivity and authorship. Islam installs her films in architectural configurations, frequently presenting them across two or three screens as a framing device. Her work aims to blur the distinctions between film and sculpture, art and cinema, and encourages a range of interpretations from viewers.

Early works often emerged from her interest in well-known passages of avant-garde film. Tuin (1998), for example, recreates a moment from Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film Martha (1973) and in Scale 1/16 inch = 1 foot (2003), the artist re-stages the film in the 1960s Brutalist car park featured in the cult film Get Carter (1971). In more recent work, Islam often takes a single visual motif as her point of departure, such as a woman distractedly spinning a ring in Dead Time (2000), a girl turning towards the camera and then vanishing in Turn (Gaze of Orpheus) (1998), a group of rickshaw drivers instructed by the artist to sit and do nothing in First Day of Spring (2005), or a cable car receding from its port in Time Lines (2005). From these initial images, she intertwines a range of visual and conceptual languages, combining analytical and experimental sequences to create beguilingly open-ended works. In her most recent work, Conditional Probability (2006), Islam has worked with an inner city school, recruiting the pupils to act in a series of interrelated mise-en-scènes.

Runa Islam was born in 1970 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She lives and works in London, UK. She has participated in many group exhibitions, including The Venice Biennale (2005), More than This! Negotiating Realities, Göterborg International Biennale for Contemporary Art (2005) and 8th International Istanbul Biennial (2003). Solo exhibitions include UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2005), Dunkers Kulturhus, Helsingborg (2005), Camden Arts Centre, London (2005), Centre d’Art Santa Monica, Barcelona (2005) and MIT List Visual Arts Centre, Cambridge, Massachussetts (2003).


Runa Islam was Born in Dhaka in Bangladesh in 1970 and lives and works in London. She studied at Middlesex University, followed by a studio residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Islam has taken the nature of film as her principal subject, examining its narrative structure and its relationship to reality. Her film installations and short single screen works recreate cinematic moments of enchantment and disclose the artificial, constructed nature of filmmaking itself.

All of the Islam’s works is referential, in the sense that it has developed out of the artist’s love of film as well as her critical interest in the methods of filmmaking itself. Fassbinder, Godard and Antonioni provide the horizon against which she creates her aesthetic that feels saturated with an aura of filmic nostalgia as well as with a charged and stylized sense of beauty. In this way, her films also hint at a post-modern idea of a collective film experience, whereby people, places and objects always seen uncannily familiar. In some cases, Islam has literally “remade” well-known passages of film in her own manner. “Tuin”(1998), for example, recreates an epic moment from Fassbinder’s film “Martha”(1973), where a unique 360-degree camera angle is used to describe a fleeting encounter between a man and a woman. Islam recast the scene in a formal, urban garden and recorded it from three different perspectives, in an attempt to materially deconstruct Fassbinder’s original.

Islam’s fragmented narratives are compelling and opaque at the same time, visually rich scenes that emphasize the impenetrability of human communication and personal language. Islam originally studied art history and philosophy and the act of intense observation and analysis of apparently simple events underpins all of her artistic output. “Stare Out(Blink)”(1998) depicts a young woman gazing intently at the viewer who suddenly disappears leaving the ghostly after image of her presence imprinted on the viewer’s retina. For Islam, the act of looking becomes a game between artist, viewer and subject where nothing is certain and everything is contingent. A lack of fulfillment and a frustration of the viewer’s gaze are present in many of her works. In the video “Turn(Gaze of Orpheus)” (1998), for example, a beautiful young woman slowly turns her head towards us; however, the viewer’s gaze is consistently deflected as the face of the girl never fully comes into our vision.

In 2002, Islam made Rapid Eye Movement, a complex film that sets out to explore the uncanny, almost mimetic analogy that can be made between the mechanism of film which records the past at 24 frames per second and the movement of the human eye during light sleep. Using the set-up of six people on a train as her central motif, Islam weaves together what you could describe as a “dream narrative”. an amalgamated series of stories where characters appear and re-appear, partial, fractured narratives illogically sequenced, linked together in a seemingly random manner like an individual’s train of thought. Islam resists an investigation into the romantic possibilities of the dream state and has instead used the trope of a “dream” as a vehicle, a structure that can house a myriad of different possible narratives, emotions, incidents and iconic, filmic motifs; a cognitive journey which can be seen as a parallel to the journey of the actual train itself. Real time and dream-time, fiction and reality are collaged together with abrupt, disjunctive edits in a desire to create loosely metaphoric associations as well as lay bare the mechanical process of film itself.

In Scale 1/16 inch = 1 foot, Islam’s most recent work, she investigates the architecture and cinematic myth of a 1960s car park featured in the cult British film Get Carter. Islam has restaged a narrative situation in the uppermost section of the building, originally intended as a flagship restaurant but a vision that in reality was never actually completed. Using various actors – some of whom were extras in Get Carter itself – as well as the architect’s original scale model of the building, as potential narrative thread is developed leading the eye of the viewer from the micro to macro and from the imagined to the real.

Link Making of de Scale (1/16 inch = 1 foot):


Link para o filme Stories on Human Rights:


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