Meena Nanji & Tommy Gear.

Meena Nanji

*1963 in Nairobi, KEN, lives and works in Los Angeles, USA

studied at California Institute of the Arts, California, USA


Tommy Gear

*1976 in Seattle, USA, lebt und arbeitet in Los Angeles, USA

 

Exhibitions (Nanji) [Selection]:
2012 Oaxaca Film Fest, Oaxaca,MEX
2010 United Nations Conference on the Environment, Copenhagen, DEN
2009 Persistence Resistance, New Delhi, IND
2008 Cinema Verite, Tehran Int’l Documentary Film Festival, Tehran, IRN
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA

Transmissions from Alphaville redux

Date: 2012
Length: 16:40 min.
Format: 4:3
Specifications: Colour, Sound, Two Channel
Courtesy the artists

 

 

The title “Transmissions From Alphaville Redux” refers to Jean-Luc Godard’s film “Alphaville” (1965) and is the first part of a trilogy planned by Meena Nanjis. In it she targets the conditions of life in the sort of police state portrayed in Godard’s film as a fictional dystopia. The film starts by leading the viewer through a system of deserted corridors. The location is unclear, the shaky camerawork, the unusual perspective at waist height and the poor lighting are reminiscent of espionage. But who is monitoring whom here? The video recording is accompanied by texts which explain the changes in law resulting from the Patriot Acts in 2001. The repeated images of corridors lead the viewer ever deeper into a perfidious system of absurd, arbitrary political legislation, and ends with a list of those who have fallen victim to this legislation. The comparison of video material from the 60s and current material makes the viewer contemplate the legality, effectiveness and necessity of an unforgiving  government machine, which justifies its violent behaviour against its citizens with the question of national security.

Magali Steinbüchel

 

 

Interview:

 

► 1. Your work has been chosen among over 2000 festival entries to participate in VIDEONALE.14. In which context do you prefer to present your work, festival/cinema context or exhibition? And what kind of difference does the respective mode of presentation mean for you / your work?

 

I think my preference for the way my work is presented depends on the actual work itself. The work in the Videonale 14 is meant to be a 2 channel video, and so it makes sense to me that it should be presented in an exhibition context. The work is also supposed to loop and I make the assumption that people can walk in and out of the piece at anytime. It isn’t designed to be watched all in one go or chronologically as set out in the project’s timeline – rather it is set up in a rhizomatic way, so that people can enter the work at any time. (Though of course I would love them to watch the whole thing!) For single channel works  - that are meant to be seen from start to finish in a linear fashion - a festival/cinema context makes sense, as I would want to capture the viewer’s attention for the whole piece. Thus the darkness, relative quiet of the cinema context, etc is appropriate for this kind of work.

 

 

► 2. Art can be seen as a mirror that registers and reflects life or as a tool that transforms it. Is there a particular theme, concept or problem your art addresses the most?

 

I like to think of my art as reflective pieces that cause viewers to reflect themselves on the themes or the experience of the work. However, I also have a more ‘activist’ side, whereby the work is quite informational, about a certain issue or subject that I feel does not have enough exposure – social justice and civil liberty issues. My creative impulse is that of the poetry that the moving image can capture, yet the activist impulse is to move people to action or transformation. In some works I try to combine these elements.

 

 

► 3. In which way is the video medium an excellent possibility to express your intended subjects, especially in contrast to other media you use? Or do you work exclusively with video?

 

I do work mostly in video and I love it because it is so malleable and can be used in so many ways – as single or multichannel, as cinema or exhibition. There are also so many ways you can combine images in order to make some sort of meaning – or not – narrative  - or not - the potential is vast, and so there’s a lot of room to experiment. I haven’t done much large scale multi-channel work, but there’s something I find very exciting about this. And single channel for more in-depth immersive work is also very exciting. Other mediums for me don’t offer the same kinds of potential of combining elements such as the word, sound, music, text, etc, but they offer a different kind of experience. For me, video seems to offer the most expression.

 

 

► 4. If you have the chance to ask the visitors of the VIDEONALE.14 exhibition questions about your own work, what would be your question?

I guess I would like to know what they ‘got’ from the work – what do they leave with?

 

 

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