Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige collaborate as filmmakers and artists, producing cinematic and visual artwork that interwine. For the last 15 years, they have focused on the images, representations and history of their home country, Lebanon and questioned the fabrication of imaginaries in the region and beyond.
During the Summer of 2016, I saw a few of their projects at the Jeu de Paume Contemporary Musuem in Paris, France and was particularly drawn to “The Rumor of the World”.
The Rumor of the World
Video installation, 23 screens, 100 loudspeakers,
38 HD films, variable lengths, 2014.
In a Black Box Gallery, people of various ages and origins, amateur actors, filmed close-up, watch us, speak to us, incarnate a scam, a story. They read allowed fabricated emailed letters sent in an attempt to profit. ” These faces and voices are spread out onto twenty-three screens and one hundred loudspeakers, weaving a network, a visual and virtual architecture that creates an invasive rumor.
This rumor starts to fade only when the spectator approaches the screen, so as to create a shot-reverse angle shot. Only at this distance does the story, incarnated by a singular individual, reveal itself. If the spectator steps back, a multitude of voices interfere with the sound and resonate within the space.
The scams, sent out in a blind and collective manner, usually end up in the junk file in email boxes, and with the presence of these thirty-eight amateur actors become individually directed, between a subject and another. Could these emails, written in a specific style, emphasized by automatic translation programs that generate grammatical and syntactic errors, oscillating between comical and poetic effect, transform into literary matter? Could they go from scam documents to micro-narratives, moments of fiction and even emotion, anecdotal accounts in the etymological sense that they are confidential stories? An agreement emerges between the mechanism and the spectator, like it does in theater; one subscribes to the actors’ performance rather than reality. These monologues seem credible for an instant until the characters start to mention money thus dissolving faith and blurring the limit between truth and lie, fiction and documentary. Brought together in the exhibition, from one country and one event to the other, from a story, a face and voice to the next, these tales make up the rumor of the world.