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← Meriem Bennani's Exploded Visions | Art21 "New York Close Up"

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Showing Revision 3 created 01/26/2018 by JessicaHeaton.

  1. [COMPUTER MOUSE CLICKING]
  2. ["New York Close Up"]
  3. [SNEEZES]
  4. I feel like I have a hard time
    connecting to
  5. anything that doesn’t have humor
  6. because for me, humor is like survival.
  7. I can't imagine a state of no humor.
  8. [Meriem Bennani's Exploded Visions]
  9. I grew up in Rabat, Morocco
  10. and I've lived in New York for nine years.
  11. I had my first museum exhibition
    at PS1 last summer.
  12. I couldn’t believe it,
    and I tried to stay cool.
  13. But I was so excited.
  14. I had about a month and a half to prepare.
  15. I had tickets to go to Morocco
    the next week.
  16. And I just decided I would observe
    and film everything
  17. and kind of have this almost diaristic archive
  18. of my two weeks there.
  19. I wanted to take on this challenge
  20. of using it in a way that I had never seen.
  21. [MUSIC BEGINS PLAYING]
  22. [FLY SINGS RIHANNA'S "KISS IT BETTER"]
    ♪ Kiss it, kiss it better, baby ♪
  23. I made a 3-D fly in the video.
  24. And so she's taking you on this tour.
  25. She's kind of like the storyteller.
  26. One characteristic of the fly is
  27. that compound vision just formally felt like
  28. a direct analogy with the room that had, like,
    twelve channels
  29. and all these different
    points of views of video.
  30. Video for me is new.
  31. What I've always done is drawing.
  32. I like that, with a video,
  33. within one second, you know where you are.
  34. I use footage as material,
  35. and not for its real content,
  36. but really using it as material
  37. in the direction that is completely disconnected
    with its reality.
  38. So I started making these little videos
  39. where I would see something and then imagine
    what could be added
  40. or removed or manipulated.
  41. It would be really quick,
    like a fifteen-second video--
  42. which was the time on Instagram before it
    became a minute--
  43. and there was a freedom that was
    really fun in that.
  44. [MUSIC BEGINS PLAYING]
  45. This past spring,
    I was commissioned by Art Dubai
  46. to make an installation.
  47. And so I made these four sculptures
  48. that were actually viewing stations.
  49. They reference design in a way
    that makes you want to sit in them--
  50. like, they feel comfortable,
  51. but then you kind of are tricked
    because when you sit in them
  52. your head ends up inside
    with a video that you are viewing.
  53. [WOMAN] Action
  54. --There is this Egyptian couple
    and the guy says:
  55. --"Have you seen the stars habibti?"
  56. --And the girl: "Oh habibi I have
    seen them indeed!"
  57. [Isn't the Residence beautiful?]
  58. [Me?]
  59. [BENNANI] When I go to Morocco,
  60. I am surrounded by these women that are
    powerful or very charismatic.
  61. I filmed four women
    that are family members.
  62. But, at the same time,
    they're always in between
  63. being a family member
    and becoming a character.
  64. [WOMAN SPEAKING IN FRENCH]
    --I work as a medical representative.
  65. --I am divorced, no kids.
  66. [BENNANI] There's these two extremes,
    you know.
  67. On one side, I almost feel
    emotionally like a monster
  68. who traps family members
    into this digital world.
  69. And then the other extreme is like
  70. [CAMERA CLICKS]
  71. fully loving and celebrating family.
  72. I feel like they're both necessary
  73. and between the friction of both of them
  74. is created all this potential
    for storytelling.
  75. If you think that
    the time spent on a piece
  76. is a hundred hours,
  77. I spent maybe one hour with them
  78. and ninety-nine hours editing--
  79. looking at their face
    and tracking it frame by frame.
  80. They have no idea that
    I'm spending so much time with them
  81. while I'm in New York.
  82. I like that.
  83. I was invited by Public Art Fund,
  84. and I made a video piece for
    the Barclays Center oculus screen.
  85. The media portrays very extreme,
  86. one-dimensional portraits of Muslims.
  87. Because I knew this video would
    exist in a public space,
  88. I felt the necessity to be more thoughtful
  89. and reflect on women who wear the hijab.
  90. The video was called "Your Year"
  91. and it was showing a timeline of secular
    and Muslim holidays in America.
  92. I wanted it to be not jokey,
  93. but to be obviously in support of
  94. women wearing the hijab in the neighborhood
    where they would see the video.
  95. I had a different approach,
  96. which was to actually do way more research,
  97. to talk to women who wear the hijab--
  98. who think about it,
    who write about it--
  99. in today's America.
  100. Being in New York--
  101. with Trump, after this election--
  102. is actually affecting me in deep ways.
  103. Growing up in Morocco,
    I never really thought of myself,
  104. for example, as an Arab.
  105. Although I am, you know?
  106. I never thought in those terms.
  107. And being here,
  108. with the travel ban uniting seven countries
    into this shitty situation,
  109. for the first time I have felt it.
  110. I don’t want to be a Moroccan
    or a Muslim woman artist.
  111. I just want to be an artist
  112. who is making a project about trees.
  113. --Can I touch her?
  114. --She's friendly?
  115. --She doesn't bite?
  116. What this political climate does
  117. is that it asks you to think about
    your identity constantly.
  118. And I feel like my reaction to that
  119. has been to make work that
  120. itself doesn’t stick to a genre
    or one identity.
  121. It has to do with me not wanting to
  122. define myself into one thing.