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Magazine

17 November 2013
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Rabih Mroué at the CA2M [Spoiler Alert]


Nobody likes a spoiler. It’s currently one of the cultural phenomena that people see in a very poor light. It’s bad enough if it generates excessive expectations but when someone directly destroys an ending it provokes a shock wave of pure rage that can end the social life of anybody. It’s not my intention, so if you haven’t passed through Móstoles recently, and are thinking of doing so, I suggest you read this in a few days time.

When an exhibition is susceptible to a spoiler it means that it has a well-constructed dramatic discourse, and this is what the combination of the series, The fall of a hair and the piece, Double Shouting, in the show curated by Aurora Fernández Polanco about Rabih Mroué in the CA2M achieves. If after a detailed analysis of the mediatisation of armed conflicts you feel as if you are being shot at (here the mega spoiler) it’s upsetting. At least if you are a zealous spectator, as is my case, and you scrupulously follow the installation’s instructions. It’s a fair old trot and one’s amazed at the unveiling of photograms in the form of a gigantic folioscope, and just when you begin to ask yourself why the last plates have been placed in a sequence descending towards the floor, boom! Mroué puts you in the place of Leonardo Henrichsen, Eman Burnat, and so many other anonymous figures, who have filmed attacks, live on their cameras.

Henrichsen was assassinated on 29 July 1973, during the first hours of the military coup of the government of Salvador Allende. The last shot he filmed as a correspondent shows a soldier shooting at the camera, his camera, and it was used as the closing sequence, of the first part of La Batalla de Chile by Patricio Guzmán. Eman Burnat is the author of 5 cámaras rotas, a documentary film about the Palestine resistance in Bil’in, a small village in the West Bank; the chronicle of five cameras destroyed during the demonstrations and confrontations with the Israeli army between 2005 and 2010. The comparison of these two cases presents the change of paradigm in how information is transmitted: from the professional journalist, to the recording and mass diffusion by those actually involved.

The panorama derived from this mutation and the ample access to recording devices is the centre of the investigation that Rabih Mroué realizes into the Syrian civil war. This piece, thanks to its experiential dimension, manages to disrupt the usual perception of this type of hackneyed image, that through their proliferation on the Internet seem progressively to lose the capability to have any emotional impact. The films cited have a documentary intention, endeavouring to disseminate specific political and social events using the images with the most impact. The experience of a fictitious shot recreated through a real scenario is something else; almost in bad taste, and when you launch the first one, its shocking. However, it’s a good shot, the type that nudges you out of the place you occupy and this is an admirable objective for artists and curators.

Dedicates her time to curating, teaching and empirical investigation, moving from project to project, without ever being very clear about the frontiers that divide them. A precarious existence, that stresses her out, but every now and again she allows herself the luxury of a mid-week siesta.

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