[-empyre-] from Naeem Mohaiemen re home and away

Christina McPhee christina at christinamcphee.net
Fri Jan 11 15:16:19 EST 2008


Naeem , et al,

Naeem,  your  situation of  becoming almost an involuntary or at least  
fortuitous spokesperson or 'fetishist" !  documentarian in the  
so=called West,  recalls  also a not exactly analagous situation  
regarding the local censorship of  Amir Muhammed's flims ... Amir is  
making films in Kuala Lumpur, and his most recent film, "The Las  
Communiist" I saw at the Flaherty Film Seminar at Vassar in 2006; just  
as it was being banned in his home country  http://www.sun2surf.com/article.cfm?id=14038 
    and http://lastcommunist.blogspot.com/

One of the most interesting aspects of landscape, 'site' and political  
voice in this film, is the exploration of Communist hold-outs living  
in the countryside just across the border in Thailand, where they can  
live in obscurity but without persecution. Just showing that such is  
the case, that old guys from back in the days of revolution were still  
living and telling stories (in their eighties) of their struggles was  
enough to alarm the speech controllers in Kuala Lumpur.

A hilarious bit is found on Amir's blog, as he cites the  Malaysian  
censorshop board's list of reasons for banning "The Last Communist";  
number severn:

"7. This film is not suitable for public viewing because of its  
correct (sic) facts and it also touches on the sensitivities and  
bitter memories of security forces and members of the public who had  
been victims of communist violence.

(I think in the 7th reason, what they mean is 'incorrect' rather than  
'correct.' How nice of me to correct their typos!)"

So,  Naeem, what do you do? is it just something to accept, that your  
displacement, as it were, is a vital part of your practice, despite  
its multiple ironies? How is negotiating ' site' an important element  
in your work? and about visibiility and voice in 'site'?  sorry for  
the jargon, am fishing for some more concrete examples and stories.



> An example can be a project I worked on in 2003-2004: "Muslims or  
> Heretics" (later renamed "My Camera Can Lie").  This project, which  
> ran from 2003-2006, took the form of a linear documentary on  
> "radical" Islamist movements. Though there were many inside  
> Bangladesh who felt, and actively debated in public forum and  
> newspapers, that my particular representation of Islamist movements  
> were skewed by a fetish-fascination, my particular representation  
> received wide exposure precisely because of access to European and  
> American cultural centers where the film and associated lecture  
> could be viewed repeatedly.  By contrast, the alternative views,  
> especially that coming from Islamic scholars and those working and  
> researching madrasas, were aired in Bengali-- defiantly, and  
> necessarily, located in the so-called periphery, frozen out of  
> northern spaces which purported to also analyze such movements.
> More on this soon, but first hoping for some reactions,  
> provocations, etc from other empyreans.
> On Jan 10, 2008 2:04 PM, Christina McPhee < christina at christinamcphee.net 
> > wrote:
> dear -empyreans-
> Please welcome Naeem Mohaiemen, who will join us as soon as he can
> from New York  today,  Thursday January 10...it's 3 am in New York
> City at the moment so-- meanwhile check out his website: http://shobak.org
> Naeem is our first guest, and will be able to join us for all the rest
> of this month, except when in planes between New York and Dhaka,
> Bangladesh-- his two homes.
> Naeem is a generous and gregarious superdynamo (in my humble opinion);
> he's working on multiple fronts, as journalist, as visual artist, as
> agent provocateur.
> Using video, archive and text, Naeem investigates national security
> panic, failed revolutionary movements, and the slippage between utopia
> and dystopia.
> Projects include a multiyear investigation of hysterical conditions
> (Visible Collective, disappearedinamerica.org), My Camera Can Lie? (UK
> House of Lords), and Sartre Kommt Nacht Stammheim (Pavillion).
> [ shobak.org]
> When we skyped last month about the possibilities for -empyre-'s
> "Stations, Sites"  Naeem explored with me a  few issues that may be
> interesting, and I quote him here from our chat:
> "1. We were presenting in Vietnam/Singapore last month, and we were
> talking about how artists were just descending on to the cities,
> taking from the cities, making work "about" the cities (for the
> "natives") and leaving again, and the dynamic that creates (in
> audience and in us). 2. We were talking about our privilege as artists
> who travel etc and I said that the ultimate privilege was not class
> privilege but passport privilege... A red or blue passport is worth a
> lot and it changes how people make work, and how their work is seen."
> Naeem will begin by talking about passport privilege and artist
> perceptions between "home" and away.
> all best,
> Christina
> http://christinamcphee.net
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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