'The Guest' and 'Reshaping' – Maitha Abdallah


Maitha Abdalla, Guest and Reshaping (video still), 2017. Three-channel video, 6 min’ 25 sec. Commissioned by DUCTAC.

This work is located at the awkward and tense place where social mores and familial or personal connections meet – somewhere between the societal and the individual, the public and the private. The tension is generated by the reasonable desire not to be judgmental of other people’s behaviour or character, the moral necessity, in some cases, of making negative judgments and a reactive impression of how the individual could, should or might absorb the judgments from loved ones and society.

The piece has its origins in a depressive uncle, that lived an imaginary life that he created, and which became as real to him as the tangible, physical world around him. Yet it was a world of fiction, like an invented play with its characters and scenes.

This three channel video plays with concepts of reality and imagination, drawing upon stories from my memory and imagination as I reflect on a fraught relationship with an uncle suffering from schizophrenia. Judged by family, friends and society around him, the works are an interaction between my “true self” – the internal, shifting feelings I experienced in response to this situation – and more externally imposed judgments. This contradictory dialogue is played out like scenes from a play.