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The Visit

Jananne Al-Ani
2004
Continous Projection Colour

The Visit

Since the mid 1990s, Al Ani's photographic and video portraits have been dominated by the central figures of her mother, herself and her three sisters, and a pervading, yet absent paternal figure.

It is only in her most recent exhibition, The Visit , that a male character is physically represented, in Muse. Yet even here, he appears as if a mirage, pacing across a wilderness, cut off, distanced, mute, separated from the cacophony of voices or chorus of women in the corresponding projection piece, Echo .

The desert landscape in which Al-Ani places the suited man is a theatrical space of dislocation. The only distinguishing feature is an incessant rushing sound, which fractures the exoticism of the parched terrain. Its potential to act as a fantastical space is superseded by its proximity to the noise: a possible motorway, or runway, the non-places of potential travel. It is also the abstracted Orientalist desert landscape – the anonymous antonym of urban civilisation, described by Slavoj Zizek as the real stage on which global economic and geopolitical interests are played out. It is the ground space of a media war, the target of a distant satellite, onto which the West projects fantasies of the absent or unknown. The figure is both protagonist and muse. He is the implicated subject of the women's chatter in the corresponding Echo, their inspiration and the cause of their anxiety, yet he remains anonymous and mute, condemned to wait from dawn to dusk.
From ‘The Triumph of Echo' by Claire Doherty, Jananne Al-Ani, Film and Video Umbrella 2005.

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