- the exhibition -
what if i'm not real
multi-screen installation by Kooj Chuhan (director) + Aidan Jolly, Tang Lin, Jilah Bakshayesh, Miselo Kunda, Hafiza Mohammed - the v02 collective.
Three masked figures each on a raft at sea appear on each of three screens arranged as a circular triptych, and their respective identities as official, migrant parent and child unfold. The absence of land makes land more critical to the physical drama in which the surveillance-conscious official finds ways to deny the parent access to safe land and community while also engages in lucrative military games. The parent is occupied looking for her child and trying to salvage her homeland, while her child plays with fragments of photographs of peopleís faces which never fit together. The final terror-ridden conclusion is posed as an inevitable consequence, a real-life tableau true to current day conflicts to reflect on.
In the absence of any dialogue the installation uses poetic and minimalist devices to depict asylum in the new world order, and each repeat loop of the work has a different soundtrack suggesting alternative meanings for the same reality. A suspended net connects the three screens and the viewers must lower themselves below it to come closer to the lone dialogues from a single screen stranded amongst rocks on the floor below the net. From this emerges intermittent poetry from a ghost-like face, quietly reflecting on the thoughts of one under compulsion to seek a new life. The double-edged uses of blood (symbolising both life and death) and water (allowing respite from land conflict yet uncomfortable due to its temporary nature) are also central to the visual language of the work.
The artists chose not to deflect from the stark realities that human individuals are responsible for both causes and consequences of a grim world order in which global conflict is created or fertilised by western interests which then demonise the asylum-seeking products of that conflict. Through collaboratively developing Tang Linís minimalist poetry on the beauty and suffering of such human concerns, this incredibly compact and cohesive work manages to emotively engage with a truly epic political narrative.