Bassam Al-Sabah’s (b. 1994, Iraq) Wandering, Wandering with a Sun on my Back (2018) imagines the traumatized body as a functioning time machine falling between dystopian and utopian landscapes using hyper concentrated computer generated visuals.
The content of this existential film contrasts with the hyper concentrated computer-generated visuals that make up its content. The filmmaker presents a shimmering human representation within dwellings that cannot be escaped. These dwellings are set in landscapes that oscillate between dystopian and utopian scenery. Objects pulsate, morph and melt into each other producing an amorphous representation of pain and distress.The film was produced in relation to war, unrealized childhood fantasies and representation within globalized media. The film imagines the traumatized body as a functioning time machine where gaps between timelines and anomalies cause the present-day body to disappear and is replaced by the body’s memory of past trauma
Where are you from and how did you become interested in moving image work?
I was born in Iraq and moved to Ireland in 2004. I think my interest in moving image began as a teenager when I came across artist films on you-tube when it still was notmonetised.During my timeas an art student,I worked in a 3D printing center and that began my interest in CGI work. My earlier work was more of a video collage of found footage andmy own CGI animation contrasting news footage with the hyper synthetic aesthetic ofCGI animation.
What inspired/influence you to make the work?
This work was the second film that I have made. The first being “Fenced Within TheSilent Cold Walls”. This work was a 3D recreation of my home in Iraq that my family left after the American invasion. This film was a way for me to tease out ideas around nostalgia, war and personal mythology without having torelate it to my specific experience. Themes such as displacement, recollection and the representation of war are explored through reference to Japanese anime cartoons, which were dubbed into Arabic and broadcast throughout the Middle East from the 1980s to today.Many of these TV programmes featured imagery of revolution, war and exile, gaining a heightened political meaning within this work. As successive generations of Arabs have grown up with these anime series, my work deals with a feeling of collective nostalgia, an amalgamation of narratives in which fact and fiction, historical trauma and queer possibility intersect.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working towards a major solo show in The Douglas Hyde Gallery.The exhibition will feature a new film work titles ITS DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE! TAKE THIS. The work in the exhibition will consider where human identity is situated in the digital realm. considering what new forms of agency are emerging as we edit, post-produce and play with digital human bodies within gaming and digital image making. The film will challenge conventional notions of the body’s limits using CGI technology, with ever-shifting avatars that will become bruised, bleed, and will experience joy and death simultaneously.
Wandering, Wandering with a Sun on my Back, 2018, HD, CGI Film, 16:19 mins
Selected by Crawford Art Gallery, Cork.
Bassam Al-Sabah (1994, Iraq)is an interdisciplinary artist working with film, video,sculpture, and paintings. He has been awarded residencies in Temple bar gallery andstudios, The RHA, Gasworks (London), and Cite internationale des art (Paris).Recent solo exhibitions include De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill (2022) Gasworks, London(2021), The Glucksman Museum, Cork (2021) and Solstice Art Center, Navan (2019).His work has been screened in The Barbican (London) The Jeu De Paume (Paris),SQIFF(Scotland), EX-IS(Korea), and Haus der Kulturen der Welt(Berlin)