A presentation/talk between Ali Zaidi and Antonio Pizzo
Monday 11th October – talk at the Museum of Oriental Art in Turin
A photographic intervention in porta palazzo on saturday 9th followed by a screening of selected short films from 60×60 Secs… identity, home and its memory was discussed between Ali Zaidi (motiroti) and Antonio Pizzo (Officine Sintetiche).
Antonio Pizzo Give us a context about 360 degrees and your preoccupation with the idea of home?
Ali Zaidi Born in India, migrated to Pakistan with my parents and now living in UK – curious to how people in similar situation view the idea of home, I set up this project across the three countries. Artists from India and Pakistan were appointed as creative associates who alongside myself took the responsibility of recruitng the artsists. There was a £300 commission for each of the sixty one minute films … the films had to be translatable within different geographies in a potent visual language. After a year of hard work and phenomenal telephone costs… remarkable works came out of it and we are showing the works still after two years. So here we are today screening some selected works and talking about them in the context of home and memory.
Let me take a lead and ask you what home mean to you?
Sixty films were commissioned just for this reason so that I don’t have to answer this myself. Let me show you a film that begins to address your question. National Lottery by Daniel Saul. A documentary bout his cousin. For me home is a state of mind. My grand mother used to say home is where ever your two feet are.
This man in Dan’s film moved to London and now his biggest dream is to go back to India?
Idea of pain and joy is simultaneous, one can not exist without the other. I will go back to some of the selected works I have brought here to use as a response to your questions. In the process of looking at ones idea of home and memory we have to deal with history which for me is a collective memory. Memory is debatable. Your idea of history can be very different from mine. Let me share one other film where home is being considered symbolically as an object in space and has a physical locaton. I wonder if memory has also got a physical location. Nitin Das from India followed by Nida Bangash from Pakistan… thoughts long similar lines but very different takes, the drama between Pakistan, India and Kashmir and other is about walls and divisions which aren’t necessarily between countries but can be created within.
How do you deal with the identity when you are in the middle?
The moment you are able to unpick the stereotypes by subverting then you start getting something different. Either you fight or you go with a question of what if?
I find this film interesting in the same way as old photos are used to jog a failing memory. Reminding the Pakistan of today -associated with terrorism and fear of the Taliban that there ‘was’ another Pakistan… hey you once you were like this!
In the big playground of motiroti called identity we shared sixty commissioned perspectives on home and now somehow it makes sense to focus on memory. I took portraits of the audience who came to see 60×60 Secs and they were asked to reflect on what home meant to them. Its from that collection that I have wanted to make a work in the area of memory – exploring the fear of loosing memory… amnesia, alzhiemers, political amnesia; where memories are being manipulated… Indo Pak subcontinet, here in Italy and many other places in the world. And the ageing population of the world, the digital age and memories being deposited left right and centre – it becomes a very interesting moment to focus on memory.
Antonio myself and Andrea walked in Porta Palazzo to engage people with the question of memory of home. We spoke with different types of(detest this word but…) we interviewed and photographed people who represented different cultures. We must have looked an odd bunch walking around and talking, getting people to reflect on the questions and to write and photographing in their workspace. Idea is that when I go back to London, the motiroti Memory Lab will be informed by this intervention… we are planning our next Officine Sinteche and motiroti residency memory and dreams – an inter-generational and inter-cultural project for 2011.
Memory is very dear to me. I fear one day I would loose my memory. Yesterday I got a young man to imagine in a kafkaisque way what would happen if he would wake up the next day with a face from a different race… his response after some time was that he would go to his mum and dad and try to convince them that he is their son. But what if there isnt a memory to recognize that difference??
Hopefully in another few months down the line having had the first of the motiroti Memory Lab in December… and a little clearer in terms of what can be done with the collected, collated and generated material on memory, we will hopefully see some of you again in Turin next year or perhaps some of you will accompany the Labs in London.