British artist Runa Islam (b. 1970, Dhaka, Bangladesh) primarily uses the medium of film in austere and minimal installations that combine a rigorous logic of conception with a highly poetic style. They often take the conventions, histories, materiality, and grammar of film—its language of framing, panning, zooming, editing, and projection—as the bases for structural investigation and narrative experiment. Astutely aware that perception of the world is mediated by cinematic and technological representation, Islam positions her images on the boundaries between visibility and invisibility, legibility and silence, stability and instability, syntactical simplicity and symbolic complexity.
In The House Belongs to Those Who Inhabit It (2008), Islam explores the boundaries of cinematography by “writing” with the camera, moving it like a graffiti artist’s spray can to spell out the Italian words that, translated into English, are the film’s title. Magical Consciousness (2010) transforms the gilded back of a six-panel Japanese folding screen into the silver screen of film, and in This Much Is Uncertain (2009–10), a relentlessly edited vision of the Italian island of Stromboli, Islam once again aimed for a material transformation, relating the silver grain of the film stock to the texture of the island’s famous black volcanic sand. These three works are presented alongside Emergence (2011), a 35mm film commissioned for the exhibition that explores the relationship between film and still photography.
Organized by Christian Rattemeyer, The Harvey S. Shipley Miller Associate Curator of Drawings.