Curated by Lebanese video artist Akram Zaatari, and originally presented by the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Radical Closure features works produced in response to situations of physical or ideological closure resulting from war and territorial conflicts. The program looks at what is known as the Middle East, and how the moving image has functioned throughout its history, charged with division, political tension, and mobilization. This 5-DVD box set has an accompanying monograph with curator’s essay, and features important work by 24 artists including Guy Ben-Ner, Harun Farocki, Mona Hatoum, Walid Raad, and Elia Suleiman. Many of the titles on Radical Closure are being made available to educational audiences for the first time.
This first program deals with stories of captivity. To start, Hostage: The Bachar tapes by Walid Raad presents us with an imagined hostage presumably held in custody along with the American hostages in Lebanon during the 1980’s. Raad’s work reflects on the invention and communication of stories about abduction, insisting on the families’ unity in the face of threats, and reads through the fears and sexual fantasies of the kidnapped Americans who are held in the same cell with a Lebanese man. The next piece is a personal documentary by Namir Abdel Messeeh, in which he talks to his father, trying to understand the complex situation that led to him being a political prisoner in Egypt. In Winter at Last, Nurit Sharett looks at herself as a captive in a state that separates her from her friends, going in extreme directions; a Swiss woman who leaves by choice, and a Palestinian friend who can no longer cross into Israel. Finally a parable about captivity, a prisoner of domestic life: Guy Ben-Ner in House Hold.