THE DARK ROOM
While modern photography really began with the discovery of how to chemically fix images in the 19th century, the phenomenon of the camera obscura Latin for “dark room,” was already known for centuries.
An early discoverer, a scientist, mathematician, and philosopher of Arab origin, Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (965 - 1040 AD) observed the pinhole phenomenon and developed an entire theory of optics while living under house arrest in Cairo, Egypt for a decade.
A prison cell at the abandoned Fort Revere in Hull, MA, was transformed into a pinhole camera turning it into a metaphor for how knowledge and consciousness can never be concealed in a “dark room.”
Fort Revere, Hull, MA. Transforming a former prison cell into a camera obscura. Photos © Lara Baladi & Andre Aboulian, 2016.
The landscape outside a former prison is reflected inside the cell onto the wall through a pinhole. Fort Revere, Hull, MA. © Lara Baladi, 2016.
DON'T TOUCH ME TOMATOES & CHACHACHA
Still from the video and 7.1 surround sound installation. 940 X 300 CM. 180 degrees projection. © Lara Baladi 2013. Production Image Urubu Films. Artwork commissioned by Dior.
Don’t Touch Me Tomatoes & Chachacha is an immersive, surround sound, video installation. It is a direct response to the ill-concealed misogyny which has been surfacing around the world, and which was in Egypt in particular, amplified by the use of sexual abuse as a counter-revolutionary tool.
Viewer experiencing the video and 7.1 surround sound installation. 940 X 300 CM. 180 degrees projection. © Lara Baladi 2013. Production Image Urubu Films. Artwork commissioned by Dior.
Made with YouTube videos I collected over a period of two years during the 2011 Egyptian revolution and its aftermath, the work is a tribute to the creative and transformative part, women play in history, a role too often denied, in the Middle East and in the world at large.
This enchanting audio-visual experience, titled after one of Josephine Baker’s songs, Don’t Touch Me Tomatoes & Chachacha, is a ‘carousel’ of fireflies in which iconic women –anarchists, activists, artists such as Louise Michelle, Isadora Duncan, Alice Guy, and many more, are fireflies and, if only for a moment, illuminate the world.
Excerpt from the video and 7.1 surround sound installation. 940 X 300 CM. 180 degrees projection. © Lara Baladi 2013, Production Image Urubu Films. Artwork commissioned by Dior.
ALONE TOGETHER,... IN MEDIA RES
Latin ‘in the midst of things’
42-minute three-channel video installation by Lara Baladi. Installation view, Cairo Open City, Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany. © Lara Baladi 2012.
Alone, Together… In Media Res (Latin ‘in the midst of things’), is a three channel video installation, a ‘visual commentary’, which attempts to find and define, within historical processes, the innate quality that impels human beings to pursue freedom.
In January 2011, just as the YouTube video “Tiananmen-Cairo Courage in Cairo” went viral, a friend posted on Facebook a speech Jean Paul Sartre had delivered to an audience of striking French autoworkers 40 years earlier. As the political tension grew, more images and videos of a packed Tahrir Square were uploaded to the Internet. They echoed footage from other uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the sights and sounds of a vast array of past social movements. It was as though Sartre was protesting with us in Tahrir.
I started an on-going archival project called “Vox Populi.” I gathered videos, articles and photographs related to the events unfolding on the ground while also collecting material on major events taking place around the world since #Jan25. I researched and amassed footage that resonated with Tahrir Square and everything that followed, from historical footage to philosophical speeches, to banned cartoons, and more.
Alone, Together… In Media Res is the first artwork derived from this archive – a narrative that weaves video excerpts together to reflect on many of the questions raised during the Arab uprisings. These revolutions signal the beginning of the unraveling of a major historical period, in the middle of which I, like Alice in Wonderland, fell into a hole: YouTube.
39-minute three-channel video installation. © Lara Baladi 2012.
Research: Lara Baladi. Archive -videos, articles, photos: Lara Baladi and Amina Diab. Max/Msp/Jitter Programming: Michael Carter. Egypt, 2012.
Still from the 39-minute three-channel video installation. Cairo Open City, Installation view, Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany. © Lara Baladi 2012.
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