CEE | Center for Experimental Ethnography
the neighbor before the house
SCREENING & DISCUSSION WITH SHAINA ANAND
In Conversation with Deborah Thomas/ Center for Experimental Ethnography
Shaina Anand is a filmmaker and artist who has been working independently in film and video since 2001, and since 2007 as CAMP, a Mumbai-based studio for transdisciplinary media practices, which she co-founded with Ashok Sukumaran. CAMP's provocative, ethnographic work in video and film, electronic media and public art forms over the past decade have shown how deep technical experimentation and artistic form can meet while extracting new qualities and experiences from contemporary life and materials. From their home base in Chuim village, Mumbai they run the online archives https://Pad.ma and https://Indiancine.ma, and the community space R and R, among other activities including their long-running rooftop cinema. Shaina is also founding trustee of The Indian Cinema Foundation and curator of THE NEW MEDIUM, at the Mumbai Film Festival.
The Neighbor Before The House Program includes a presentation, screening, and discussion taking place at Slought on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. In the presentation preceding the film, Shaina Anand will explore surveillance systems, critical documentary filmmaking, and community participation, and experimentation. This presentation will be followed by a special screening of Al Jaar Qabla Al Daar (The Neighbor Before the House) (60 min, 2011) and a conversation with Deborah Thomas of the Center for Experimental Ethnography.
The Neighbor Before the House is a series of video probes by CAMP (Shaina Anand, Ashok Sukumaran, and Nida Ghouse, with Mahmoud Jiddah, Shereen Barakat, and Mahasen Nasser-Eldin) into the landscape of East Jerusalem. The film centers on Eight Palestinian families who use their TV screens to look out into their neighborhood. Shot with a PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) CCTV security camera mounted on the rooftops of their homes, these images show the before and after of instrumental "surveillance."
Instead of bearing witness in the usual way, these families control the cameras from their homes, a voice finds an image, an image is probed beneath its surface, and thoughts withdraw or rebound, as Palestinians evaluate the nature of their distance from others. They observe nearby archeological digs, their homes, the West Bank barrier, both near and far settlement activity, and other seemingly mundane aspects of the relentless occupation of East Jerusalem. Inquisitiveness, jest, memory, desire, and doubt pervades the project of watching. At other times, narrative spills out first and the live camera operator seeks an image that might provide evidence.
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