In Transit, 2008 (video still), video projection, 4:55 minutes, sound, courtesy of the artist and Giorgio Persano Gallery, Turin, Italy
Lida Abdul's video work opens with a panoramic image and the words: "I saw this and this... I was sent as a witness... one day I began to see." And what does she see? At first glance, a group of boys in traditional Afghan dress, who are holding long ropes tied to a perforated and destroyed airplane. As they keep pulling on the ropes, the boys attempt to bring the airplane back to life, and to fly it up into the sky like a kite. Gathering bits of lamb's wool from the ground, they climb onto the plane and try to stop up the holes, to heal the wounds. On one level, one may see the airplane as offering a possibility of escape, the option of a journey to another, distant and better world. On another, more concrete level, the airplane embodies the vestiges of the war, the end result of religious and political conflicts that know no boundaries.
Abdul's sad, poetic work is built out of broken phrases and slow, faltering camera movements. The sentences floating above the images describe, in the first person singular, the experience of visiting this place, while also quoting the voices of invisible onlookers . Like fragments of memory, the shards of imagery and information attempt to come together to create a coherent view, while disintegrating as if disappearing into the realm of oblivion.
"You saw nothing in Hiroshima. Nothing," says the man to the woman in the opening scene of Hiroshima Mon Amour (script: Marguerite Duras, director: Alain Resnais, 1959); "I saw everything. Everything," the woman answers. For in Hiroshima, as in Kabul, Gaza or anywhere else in the world, seeing is first and foremost a matter of decision.
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, 1964; lives and works in Kabul and Los Angeles