Ermanno Rivetti: Fear death by water

Mohammed Kazem's claustrophobic 360-degree sound and video installation, Directions 2005-2013, in the United Arab Emirates pavilion, creates a powerful cocktail of dread and desolation by transporting the viewer to the middle of the ocean, with no land in sight. The sheer physicality of the experience is almost hard to bear, as the combination of a stable viewing platform (at the centre of the installation) and the undulating waters projected all around it provoke an almost instant sense of nausea. At once psychologically harrowing and physically trying—the young child in the photo seemed oblivious to all this—the installation is a must see, even if your sea legs are not what they used to be.

Mother and child experience Directions 2005-2013

By stripping this terrifying seascape of any geographical reference and replacing it with a simple set of GPS coordinates that appear on the floor of the viewing platform, Kazem symbolically breaks down artificial geopolitical borders, at least that is the official reading of his work. However, the sheer sense of terror, the loneliness and the fear, seem to stem from somewhere deeper, perhaps an incident that happened some years ago, when Kazem fell overboard during a fishing trip with friends and was temporarily lost at sea. Geographical boundaries may be dispensable, but Kazem's use of GPS coordinates, on which the viewer symbolically stands, stems from a very real need to be “located”.

The work is a full-scale and complete version of a project that Kazem first presented at the 2003 Sharjah Biennial and then at the 2006 Singapore Biennial.

Published Wed, 29 May 2013 12:15:00 GMT

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3 Jun 13
16:7 CET

JULIE CELLINI, SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS USA

Wish I were there to see this! This may well be the most compelling piece the UAE has ever presented .

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