03 April – 17 July 2021
A primary exhibition of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
There is a familiar point of view when sitting in the passenger seat of a car or at the kitchen table absorbed in close dialogue with others. Whether it’s the passing scenery or the preparation of food that flickers in and out of your peripheral vision, the mundane becomes an otherworldly frame for discussion. Amongst the gestures, aromas and anecdotes, both intimacy and criticality form an openness in which conversation with kin can speak beyond the familial to the complex arrangements of sociality. Jupiter in Aries, Moon in Virgo is a solo exhibition by London-based artist Rehana Zaman that brings together two video works unfolding through the candid backdrop of family setting, offering an alternative lens through which to read tenderness, diasporic subjectivity, and the enduring presence of colonial regimes.
Tell me the story Of all these things (2017) is an accumulation of multiple threads uniting conversations between the artist and Farah (her sister), culinary performances of the body, material from the UK government’s counter terror legislation, Prevent and animated sequences of a metamorphosing body whose membrane is camouflaged against the surrounding landscape. Over the careful concoction of Machli ka Salan (fish curry), Farah muses on her upbringing in Pakistan, her life to date in the UK, and potential futures working in the Gulf. As the dish is prepared ebullient storytelling gives way to moments of radical honesty. In conjunction, an amorphous CGI figure emerges restless from a seemingly desolate, desert-like scenery. The texture of her skin mirrors her surroundings, and her idleness reflects a felt subjectivity as she maneuvers through her environment. The compounded patterns, gestures, and conversations run through Tell me the story Of all these things disassembling the multiple figurations of Farah as she both elides and is constituted through the technologies of the state.
Adjacent to this, a meditative conversation on belief and desire unfolds during a car ride with ‘Sajid’ in the work Your Ecstatic Self (2019). Viewed from the passenger seat, Sajid drives through nondescript semi-urban spaces relaying a journey of self-discovery that maps paths through astrology, Islam, and the philosophy and practice of Tantra. Sajid’s narration poses questions around the social function of the sexual where western perceptions of Brown Asian male sexuality undermine liberatory readings of an expansive and emancipatory erotic. Spatial and temporal shifts weave through the storytelling with archive footage of pre-islamic Indigenous shamanic rituals in the Hunza Valley, Pakistan – a site of both cultural contestation and popular tourist hiking destination alongside sequences of plant cultivation and conjuring in a green space, performed by Priya Jay writer, healer and botanist in communion with Zaman. The film transitions between the liminal space of the car, mountainside, or edgeland where alternative epistemologies and ritual offer possibilities to re-envision and transform.
Together, the films Tell me the story Of all these things and Your Ecstatic Self are instinctively kindred works, departing from intimate yet contested spaces to connect dreams, histories and realities with an unbound tenderness.
Rehana Zaman is an artist from Heckmondwike based in London. Her work speaks to the entanglement of personal experience and social life, where moments of intimacy are framed against cultural orthodoxies and state coercion. Conversation and cooperative methods sit at the heart of her practice. Forthcoming exhibitions in 2021 include Trinity Square Video, Toronto, Borås International Sculpture Biennial (Sweden), Artist Film International Whitechapel, London, British Art Show 9 (Touring) and Serpentine Projects, London, UK. In 2019 she co-edited Tongues with Taylor Le Melle, published by PSS and was shortlisted for the Film London Jarman Award. She is currently a board member of not/nowhere artist workers cooperative and Lux Moving Image, who also distribute her films.