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mazefilm film & gender - politics

»Are you recording?«

Sandra Schäfer mit Nacir Alqas, Elfe Brandenburger, Aiqela Rezaie, Saba Sahar und Diana Saqeb

Exhibition concept in collaboration with Lena Ziese

Private View July 21st, 17:00-20:00
July 22nd, 2010, 11:00-20:00

Triangle Gallery, Chelsea College of Art and Design, 16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU

In the exhibition »Are you recording?« the artist Sandra Schäfer presents her collaborative film practice with the Berlin-based filmmaker Elfe Brandenburger and filmmakers and actresses in Kabul. Schäfer contextualizes this practice with a a text-image-collage, photographs from her serial Urban settings and other kinds too, and a selection of films that were produced in Afghanistan since 1990.

The film Passing the Rainbow, shot in Kabul by Sandra Schäfer and Elfe Brandenburger in 2007, deals with performative strategies that undermine the rigid gender norms in Afghan society: on the level of cinematographic stagings, in politics and in everyday life. Life and character collide and overlap, as do playfulness and activism. The production of the film is adjusted by the protoganists to meet their own conditions in order, within that framework, to make a public statement. They act as co-producers of the image, shaping the content of scenes and moving in and out of the role of director.

The film Passing the Rainbow will be presented in an installation together with three other films. Two of them were also made in 2007, during the so called 'process of democratization' after 2002: 25 Darsad (25 Percent) by Diana Saqeb and Nejat (The Rescue) by Saba Sahar. With the short film Sayeh (Shadow) by Nacir Alqas, from 1990, an arc will be traced through the short history of Afghan cinema. Nacir Alqas, who was able, after a two-year ban, to finally shoot Sayeh in Kabul in 1990, tells, in his film, the story of a war widow whose new husband refuses to accept her son from her first marriage. The seemingly documentary setting and the lead actress’s dramatic work recall the films of Italian neorealism. In 25 Darsad the filmmaker Diana Saqeb portrays, in a documentary style, the daily life of different women MP’s. She joins them both during their political work and private duties at home. The director Saba Sahar shot her film Nejat in the popular Pakistani 'Lollywood-style' with sophisticated martial arts scenes. This genre is particular popular amongst the male audience in Afghanistan. Saba Sahar plays the leading role of an undercover police woman. Like her protagonist, the director’s day job is with the police.

In her text-image-collage Sandra Schäfer reflects on the cinematic practices and the creative process behind Passing the Rainbow. The photos from the series Urban settings and other kinds too deal with the idea of setting reality as a stage. The pictures shown in this exhibition were taken in Kabul between 2002 and 2008. Schäfer’s selection reflects the conviction that it is impossible to convey a comprehensive image of a city. Rather the photos show how public and private spaces are inscribed with specific gestures.

In her artistic work, Sandra Schäfer has previously dealt with themes of representation of gender, urbanity and (post-) colonialism. She has been involved in different collaborative projects with filmmakers, activists and theoreticians. Schäfer has visited Kabul and Tehran frequently since November 2002 to do research with Elfe Brandenburger for the film Passing the Rainbow and the film festival Kabul/Teheran: 1979ff. In 2007 she co-curated the film festival SPLICE IN; on gender and politics in Afghanistan, its neighbors and Europe, which took place in Kassel, Berlin and Hamburg. In 2008 the festival continued in Kabul under the title SECOND TAKE, in cooperation with BASA-Film and Afghan Film in Kabul. Schäfer also co-edited Kabul/Teheran 1979ff: Filmlandschaften, Städte unter Stress und Migration (Film Landscapes, Cities under Stress and Migration), a metroZones book published in 2006 by b_books-Verlag in Berlin. In 2009 her book stagings. Kabul, Film & Production of Representation was published in the same publishing house. The mobile cinema screenings will travel to Barcelona and Madrid in autumn 2010. Sandra Schäfer is currently fellow artist with Künstlerschloss Balmoral/TrAIN at Chelsea College in London.
www.mazefilm.de

Thanks to Jochen Becker, Eva Broer, Gerard Choy, Emma Hedditch, Britta Lorch, Barbara Nicholls, Karin Rebbert, Rob Rankine, Duncan Smith, Lena Ziese.
This exhibition is supported by Künstlerschloss Balmoral, TrAIN and acava.