‘Passage’ is an immersive, 26-minute, two-channel video and twelve-channel sound installation by poet, filmmaker and artist Nujoom Alghanem. Filmed in the UAE and in Venice, the site-specific work has been closely conceived and developed with the Pavilion curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath.
Passage expands Nujoom Alghanem’s experimentation with contemporary Arabic poetry through the language of film. Taking her quintessential 2009 poem, The Passerby Collects the Moonlight, as a point of departure, this installation explores the universal experience of displacement.
It is structured along two distinct narratives, one “real,” the other “fictional,” which are simultaneously projected as two non-linear films on the opposite sides of the same screen. The “real” narrative depicts the endeavours of Nujoom and Amal, a Syrian actress residing in the United Arab Emirates, to create a film for the Pavilion. The “fictional” narrative is an aestheticised portrayal of Falak, a displaced woman on an arduous journey. The latter is conceived by Nujoom and played by Amal. This Brechtian conflation of reality and fiction, culminating in a scene that depicts Falak arriving to the Pavilion in Venice, prompts the viewer to consider the parallels between the film’s three main protagonists: the director, the actress and the fictional character. These three women of a similar age are connected by the experience of shared dualities: the hidden and the revealed, fragility and power, as well as belonging and displacement.
The individuals and organizations whose support was instrumental to the realization of the film are acknowledged here.