When we walked into the lecture theatre, I have to admit, I was somewhat afraid that this artist talk was going to be like the CGI talk we had last term. I was pleasantly surprised to find that CGI was a very small portion of the work that Rehana Zaman does.
Rehana Zaman is an artist based in London working with moving image and performance. Her work considers the interplay of multiple social dynamics that constitute subjects along particular socio-political formations. These narrative based artworks, often deadpan and neurotic, are frequently generated through conversation and collaboration with others. Recent screenings and exhibitions include Tenderpixel, London, Artist Moving Image Festival, ICA, London, London Feminist Film Festival, Contemporary Art Tasmania, The Irish Film Institute, Dublin, The Tetley, Leeds, Studio Voltaire, The Showroom and Whitechapel Gallery, London, Projections Art Rotterdam, Konsthalle C, Stockholm and Baro, São Paolo.
Tenderpixel website: tenderpixel
Review of Rehana Zaman, I,I,I,I and I, Studio Voltaire, London: thisistomorrow
A conversation between Rehana Zaman and Isabel Gylling, Outpost Gallery: norwichoutpost
Rehana Zaman on Vimeo: vimeo.com
Source: Email prior to the artist talk
Rehana Zaman first told us that the works she would show us are those that have been made and exhibited in the past three years, and that she is showing us the work in the most clear way that she found. Only then, did I find out that she works with film.
The most recent of her works ‘Tell me a story of these things’, I initially thought was a refugee story. Rehana then enlightened us to the fact that this series looks at diversity. Throughout this film, there was what looked like artworks using the ingredients for a recipe – turns out these were slowly being used to make curry. Throughout the three parts of this exhibition, you increasingly gain reflections into the world of the speaker and her personal experiences in education, the world, being born and raised in Pakistan, but living much of her life in England. There was also appropriated material used within these films in the form of an e-learning prevent video in response to terrorism and radicalisation, especially in young people. This is framed as a child protection policy. Rehana was introduced to this as her role as a lecturer and the works that she has previously completed. There are layers of different figures throughout the work and all are framed as certain people, but Rehana wanted to pull this preconception apart and hollow it out. What makes this film personal to Rehana is that the central figure, is her sister, and so she herself is positioned somewhere within this film, even if that is unintentional. The form of the films are that of an unstructured interview. Rehana mentioned that she didn’t have anything in particular that she wanted to ask her sister, but she knew that she wanted it to become quite personal. The conversation was created through and relied upon the relationship between the two sisters and the activity of cooking curry to create a conversation.
Next, we were shown a clip of one of her quicker works; a 22 minute film looking at different women with different spontaneous or scripted stories, intertwined with different treatments being carried out in a salon. For example, one of these women shared how her boyfriend of the time had saved a woman from chocking, but she was left there as a nobody. Rehana wanted to look at memories and how we share accounts. Not only this, but also the way in which when we share accounts, they can somewhat fall apart. These came out of several personal experiences including a discussion at the Tate of a screening and to respond from her own perspective – she mentioned that she thought about universal female subjectivity and the process of tearing this apart.
In a somewhat answer to the screening at the Tate, Rehana created a multi-screen work sketching out different bodies and the colours of different bodies. This was done through a giantess and attempting to find a body that isn’t particularly tied to anything. Instead, she found that the brown giantess that she used, gave elements of terror and contrastingly, love.
To finish off the talk, 3 years ago, Rehana felt that this was a turning point for herself and her work, with the project ‘some women, other women and all the bitter men’. This looks at the relationship between the former Tetley (now Carlsberg) workers in Leeds, and those part of the migrant domestic workers. When we first started watching it, the clip reminded me of a ‘Holby City’ kind of vibe, and especially part of the soap-opera genre. But then, reality hit with the clips of current migrant domestic workers are trying to get their needs across to the general public. It is almost as if it is showing the two sides of what the general public think and then the real truth of the matter. While filming, Rehana said that it was unclear what the involvement with the domestic workers would lead to, until later on in filming. The domestic workers ultimately wanted for the general public to see the difficulties with their visas. This project and pieces of work also creates the question of collaboration, as there are elements of the Tetley workers, a campaign film and an art film. Rehana did mention towards the end that she does like to question authenticity, which is an element which can be seen throughout her works.