[Image courtesy of Leeds Art Gallery]
Described as works which “interrogate and inspire a meeting point between modernism and mysticism”, Towards the Possible Film, 2014 is playing on a cinema-size screen at the Leeds Art Gallery. It is defined by the gallery as a film installation.
The film is a somewhat unsettling piece that opens with three ragged looking and ‘primitive’ humans who appear to guard their temporary settlement. They clamber around on huge rugged rocks on a landscape that looks almost Martian. Meanwhile, out of the inhospitable and treacherous sea, two blue-faced ‘aliens’ emerge in astronaut suits. The three on guard respond by dancing with menace. They are unnerving to watch/for the aliens, being ever alert, and quite wild. Even so, they appear unsure.. Then, the two aliens walk slowly onto the shore, clearly disorientated by the behaviour. Apprehensively, the three ‘guards’ come forward to inspect the blue-faces. Suddenly they run at them. Disturbingly, one has a hammer and jumps into the sea. Is she going to attack the blue-faces? Then we see her run uphill, no longer carrying the hammer. At the top of the hill she screams. One blue-face comforts another who is gushing with blood, while the sun sets over the ocean. That is how the film ends.
Filmed on Legzira Beach in Sidi Ifni in Morocco, this was where Dawood found a deep source of inspiration from the region’s history; including the many wars fought in the twentieth century between Spain, Morocco and Saharan tribes. The ‘alien’ landscape has a truly otherworldly feel about it. This perplexing real and surreal film ultimately asks questions about the nature of being. Dawood holds a mirror to our actions, revealing the obvious connection between otherness and the otherworldly. His art works are often rooted in his heritage, life experience, and desire to encourage communication between different cultures, people, the past and future. This film is typical of such works. Accompanied by textile paintings and neon works in the adjoining gallery, it’s where we see Shezad Dawood’s continuing romantic affection for textiles. His affection can be interpreted as an allegory for all the unseen threads and connections that exist between events, ideas and histories. As he has said himself, “it is as if in some sense they reveal something of the hidden forces at work that conform to classical notions of time or destiny”.
‘Towards the Possible Film’ is at the Leeds Art Gallery from the 3rd October 2014 – 11th January 2015.