Kunsthal Charlottenborg og gallery Atassi Damaskus 2005

Chill out with Harun ar-Rashid

 “He often disguised himself and walked about in town to see with his own eyes the way everything happened. Thus one night he went to …”

The Arabian Nights

IMG_6676“Chill out with Harun ar-Rashid” is an Arabian chill-out room. The room is dark and contains 6 video installations. The title of the exhibition refers to the tale from The Arabian Nights of the caliph Harun ar-Rashid who wander about the streets in his own town wanting to see it with his own eyes.

The 6 video installations are the caliph’s eyes, and in the same way the town is strange to the caliph these 6 installations search a strange and in this case Arabian world.

IMG_6652lilleIt is literally the eyes of a “tourist”, wide open and curious, perhaps naïve, sucking in souvenirs of sounds and pictures.

But instead of “happily” plucking one experience after another the “eyes” are sucked inwards and vanish in the often noisy and cacophonic unknown. The unknown may be funny and bizarre, especially if you insist on it and keep staring. But the meditative is not necessarily pleasant. Perhaps it is not completely cost free to chill out. Perhaps there is an element of masochism and self destructiveness in this insistence on the unknown.

It is in this “room” you can chill out with ar-Rashid.

 September 11 2001 we find ourselves in an Arabian country and get the idea to a nocturnal city walk in Damascus on this very date in order to capture on video any reactions to the terrorists’ actions in USA. And in this way the project is born.