Nujoom Alghanem: Passage
The 58th International Art Exhibition
Curated by Sam Bardaouil & Till Fellrath for Biennale Arte 2019, 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 was closely conceived and developed with the Pavilion curators.
Passage expands Nujoom Alghanem’s experimentation with contemporary Arabic poetry through the language of film. Taking her quintes -sential 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 opposite sides of the same screen. The “real” narrative depicts the endeavors 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 aestheticized 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 at 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 accompanying publication, Passage by Nujoom Alghanem, was edited by Sam Bardaouil & Till Fellrath, published by Silvana Editoriale, Milano.
The 58th International Art Exhibition titled May You Live In Interesting Times, curated by Ralph Rugoff, was open to the public between 11 May – 24 November 2019.