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In Dialogue: Basma Alsharif and John Smith

Mon 11 May 2015 / 7pm

LUX, Shacklewell Lane
Book online

A new instalment in our on-going series Films in Dialogue

The films and videos of Basma Alsharif explore the subjective experience of political landscape, investigating the links between a geographical space and its mental representation. Born in Kuwait of Palestinian origin, Alsharif’s nomadic existence – brought up in France and the United States, she has lived in Beirut, Amman and Cairo and is currently based between Los Angeles and Paris – is deeply embedded in her work. Whether working with photography, film, video, sound, text or language, the representation of Palestine as a place where the constant feeling of threat and the ever-changing geographical borders produce a sense of unreal is a crucial subject in Alsharif’s work and her on-going interrogation of the relationship between history and the human condition.

In Dirty Pictures, the seventh episode in the Hotel Diaries series by British artist filmmaker John Smith, the filmmaker moves from one hotel in Bethlehem to another in East Jerusalem, encountering a series of problems involving a ceiling, a video camera and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. John Smith draws a very fine line between the personal and the political, the intimate and the global, oscillating with humour between the two. Dearticulating the relationship between sound and image, reality and construction, Smith – just as Alsharif – makes work that by looking inwards towards the domestic and the self, opens up to the universal.

This special screening of their work in dialogue will be followed by a conversation between Basma Alsharif and John Smith.


Dirty Pictures (John Smith, 2007, 15 min)

Home Movies Gaza (Basma Alsharif, 2013, 24 min)

Flag Mountain (John Smith, 2010, 8 min)

A Field Guide to the Ferns (Basma Alsharif, 2015, 11 min)

Dark Light (John Smith, 2014, 4 min)

Film still from Basma Alsharif's Home Movies Gaza, 2013
Film still from Basma Alsharif's Home Movies Gaza, 2013


Basma Alsharif

Basma Alsharif (born 1983) is an artist/filmmaker of Palestinian origin who was born & raised nomadically, and developed her practice between Chicago, Cairo, Beirut, Amman, Sharjah, and the Gaza Strip. She was invited to the Malmo Art Academy of Lund University in 2004, received an MFA in 2007 from the University of Illinois in Chicago, and recently moved to Los Angeles. She is represented by Galerie Imane Fares in Paris France and distributed by Video Data Bank. Her works have shown in solo exhibitions, biennials, and film festivals internationally including the Jerusalem Show, the New York Film Festival, the Berlinale, Videobrasil, and Manifesta 8. Basma won a Jury Prize at the 9th Sharjah Biennial, received the Marion McMahon Award at the Images Festival in Toronto, and was a guest of the Flaherty Film Seminar in upstate New York. She was recently part of the New Museum’s Here and Elsewhere exhibition and is currently a resident of the Pavillon at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris from November 2014 – June 2015.

John Smith

John Smith (born 1952) lives and works in London. Initially inspired by conceptual art and the structural materialist ideas that dominated British artists’ filmmaking during his formative years, but also fascinated by the immersive power of narrative and the spoken word, he has developed an extensive body of work that subverts the perceived boundaries between documentary and fiction, representation and abstraction. Often rooted in everyday life, Smith’s meticulously crafted films rework and transform reality, playfully exploring and exposing the language of cinema. Since 1972 John Smith has made over fifty film, video and installation works that have been shown in cinemas, art galleries and on television around the world and awarded major prizes at many international film festivals. He received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists in 2011, and in 2013 he was the winner of Film London’s Jarman Award. His work is held in numerous collections including Arts Council England, Tate Gallery, Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, Kunstmuseum Magdeburg, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Ferens Art Gallery, Hull.