Hiding Our Faces Like a Dancing Wind

Video Programme & Artist Talks

Forensic Architecture, Yazan Khalili, Ole-Kristian Heyer, Patrick Lohse and Marian Mayland

Schau_Raum, Museum für Neue Kunst, Freiburg (28 May – 5 August 2020)

Film-still from Hiding Our Faces Like a Dancing Wind (2016) by Yazan Khalili

Artist Talks on Thursday, 25 June, 19:00 via zoom


Forensic Architecture, Yazan Khalili, Ole-Kristian Heyer, Patrick Lohse and Marian Mayland curated by Didem Yazıcı


Thursday, 25 June 19:00 (CEST)

Join via ZOOM  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88167809992

Speakers: Amel El Zakout, Christina Varvia (Forensic Architecture), Yazan Khalili, Patrick Lohse and Ole-Kristian Heyer. 

Moderation: Didem Yazıcı

The conversation will be in English.

In collaboration with The New Center for Research & Practice. 

Special thanks to Mohammad Salemy and Kasra Rahmanian.

Hiding Our Faces Like a Dancing Wind

Revolving around human rights urgencies in  times of crisis, the video programme Hiding Our Faces Like a Dancing Wind brings together three filmic works: Forensic Architecture’s Shipwreck at the Threshold of Europe, Lesvos, Aegean Sea (2020), Ole-Kristian Heyer, Patrick Lohse, and Marian Mayland’s Dunkelfeld(2020) and Yazan Khalili’s Hiding Our Faces Like a Dancing Wind(2016), which grants the programme its title. Humankind has been hiding their faces for centuries. Some are concerned with violations of privacy and avoiding facial recognition technology, some wear a scarf over their face as part of their belief system, and others seek to shield themselves from a discriminatory gaze, possibly fearing a racist attack. Today, all around the world, we are all hiding our faces for a good cause; wearing masks to prevent the spread of a virus and save lives. In such times of solidarity and crisis, universal human values are being continuously tested.

Khalili’s work refers to the tight relationship between facial recognition technologies and its historical background in colonial practices.While asking the question How do we disappear in the digital age?, this piece  recalls colonial mechanisms of racial classifications and the construction of historical narratives. The video features a woman’s face captured on screen, which appears to confuse the camera’s facial recognition system, so that a sequence of ethnographic masks interrupts the frame. The act of hiding our faces becomes a gesture for protection from typecasting,  racist legacies and digital surveillance systems.

The summer of 2015 was also known as ”the long summer of migration”. With their collaborative video piece, Forensic Architecture unravels the facts behind a sinking migrant boat and its complicated rescue operation just off the European coast in 2015. It includes video material from artist and survivor Amel Alzakout, recorded as the boat was sinking as well as video taken by artist Richard Mosse. Combined with material from activists, members of the press, the Greek coastguard, satellite images and weather data, they form an effort to determine, through analysis, what really happened and who might be responsible. All of this data functions as evidence that calls for social justice. Investigating the shipwreck carefully, the work informs us of the ugly truths of European border politics during a humanitarian crisis.

Dunkelfeld by Ole-Kristian Heyer, Patrick Lohse and Marian Mayland sheds light on the story of the Turkish-born and German-based Satır Family. In August 1984, a house inhabited by migrant workers was burnt down in Duisburg, Germany killing seven members of a family. While the police immediately ruled out racism as a reason, the survivors continue to doubt that it was a coincidence that their house was set on fire. In the wake of ongoing and recent attacks, this critical and careful work highlights German politics, which is belatedly waking up to the threat of far-right terrorism and racism.

Historically, the personification of the scales of justice dating back to the goddess Maatin Ancient Egypt, Justitiain Ancient Roman, and the Greek goddesses Themis and Dike, are depicted as blindfolded, covering their eyes. In this context, the blindfold represents impartiality, the idea that justice should be applied regardless of wealth, power or status. Similarly, medieval executioners and popular cultural characters such as the title character in the film Joker(2019), who begins a violent counter-cultural revolution against the wealthy, also cover their faces.  In his groundbreaking text “The World After Coronavirus”, Yuval Noah Harari criticised governments that launched apps to stop the pandemic which monitor every movement of its citizens; a kind of under-the-skin-surveillance. Here, the gesture of hiding a face becomes an act of protest. The intention is to perform a certain type of anonymity for any of several reasons: to revolt, to hide, to see without bias, or to protect oneself and others from a virus. How are you hiding your face?

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