Available for streaming April 27 – May 7, 2022
Curated by Regine Basha, Monuments & Flowers brings together a selection of seminal video work by women artists culled from the archives of ArteEast with the work of contemporary voices including ACT lecturer Lara Baladi.
Baladi’s inclusion is her 2013 film, Don’t Touch Me Tomatoes & Chachacha (Egypt/Lebanon , 9 min.).
Between 2012 and 2013, artist Lara Baladi created the immersive, surround-sound video installation, Don’t Touch Me Tomatoes & Chachacha as a direct response to the ill-concealed misogyny which had been surfacing around the world (and continues to), and which at the time, in Egypt in particular, was amplified by the use of sexual abuse as a counter-revolutionary tool.
Made with YouTube videos collected over a period of two years during the 2011 Egyptian revolution and its aftermath, Don’t Touch Me Tomatoes & Chachacha, is a tribute to the creative and transformative part women play in history, a role they are too often denied, in the Middle East and in the world at large.
As a response to a commission by Christian Dior to make a work for the exhibition Miss Dior––which highlighted the designer’s admiration for his sister’s role as a resistant in the second world war––this enchanting audio-visual experience, titled after one of Josephine Baker’s songs, Don’t Touch Me Tomatoes, is a “carousel” of fireflies in which iconic women artists, activists, and anarchists, such as Louise Michelle, Isadora Duncan, Alice Guy, and many more––are fireflies, who, if only for a moment, illuminate the world.
This work was originally conceived as a 7.1 surround sound video installation (projection at 180 degrees 380 X 118 inches).
Artwork commissioned by Dior.
How do we reflect upon the ebb and flow of destruction and construction, death and regeneration – of cities, of ideologies, of nations and particularly of quotidian life and ecosystems? As these overwhelming tragedies accelerate in real time in different parts of the world, the act of memorializing is overpowered by a continual state of grieving. How do artists and filmmakers create works of memorialization through this lens of grieving? Oftentimes it is through invoking both past and future perspectives into alternate visions of reality that speak to hidden truths. Monument & Flowers reflected on these strategies in its original iteration in 2019, and will now be re-mounted in Europe at this time with an all women line-up and the addition of Spanish subtitles, courtesy of ArteEast and Casa Arabe.Monuments & Flowers features films by six visionary women artists from the region termed ´the Middle East´ where a colonialists´ footprint of destruction, displacement and reconstruction have long become part of artists´ psychic imagination and generative narratives. The film and video works selected here internalize this state of constant flux, employing both fictional and diaristic narratives while collapsing the hyper-real with the surreal. Scenes from daily life may become infused with a subconscious overlay of desire, fear, alienation or utopian longings that resemble a hallucination of the past and future colliding. Through highly evocative mixed use of time-based media; ranging from found super 8mm, to stained celluloid, to CGI, many of the works lean towards a retro-futurist lens that is highly attentive to the minutiae and habits of locale, yet slippery in its chronology.