Rabih Mroué’s Pixelated Revolution
Watch a video featured in Signals: How Video Changed the World, and hear from the artist about the social forces that inspired it.
Ana Janevski, May Makki
May 24, 2023
Rabih Mroué’s Pixelated Revolution screened here May 24–June 7, 2023. The video is no longer available for streaming. Join us for the next Hyundai Card Video Views, screening on June 21.
At the outset of the Syrian Revolution in 2011, Lebanese artist Rabih Mroué began engaging with cell phone videos shot by civilians that were proliferating on YouTube and Facebook. With the rise of social media, these videos circulated to an international audience, disrupting the heavily regulated images produced by the Syrian regime. The Pixelated Revolution reflects Mroué’s attempt to apprehend the images shot by protestors, for whom producing a record was a final act preceding their murders by the regime.
Throughout his career, the artist has contended with images of violence across political contexts and developed critical frameworks for analyzing their production and aesthetics. We sat down with Mroué to reflect on this work and the role of cinema, found footage, and theater in his practice. – Ana Janevski and May Makki
Repetition gives us the opportunity and the possibility to think about the material in a different way; to examine it with a forensic approach.
MM: To this point of repetition, it’s a strategy you use in the video. The same clip is examined again and again, visually, but also from the perspective of psychology, philosophy, and even optography. How does the performativity of your approach apply pressure in a way that disrupts the image?
Repetition is something essential in theater. I studied theater. I come from this medium where we repeat ourselves all the time. We rehearse, and afterwards we present the performance on stage many times. We try to repeat the same movements and feelings, try to be identical to the first time, which is actually impossible.
I thought that, first of all, even repetitions are not the same. Also, there are different ways of seeing the same thing repeating itself. Repetition allows us to have a different relationship with the material we are working on. We start to think of it in a calm way, far from emotions, and be able to analyze it and deconstruct its discourse, especially when we talk about images that are violent or that document the act of killing. Repetition gives us the opportunity and the possibility to think about the material in a different way; to examine it with a forensic approach. There are certain images that we think are untouchable and very sensitive to deal with because they belong to tradition. How do we deal with such images? I think repetition gives us the opportunity to take away their “aura,” and allows us to be skeptical, to question them, to formulate ideas about them, and to see beyond what they appear.
Signals: How Video Changed the World is on view at MoMA March 5–July 8, 2023. You can also stream The Pixelated Revolution—along with nearly 50 other videos—on the Signals Channel through the end of the exhibition.
Hyundai Card Video Views
Gretchen Bender’s Dumping Core
Watch Bender’s mid-1980s video experiment in “purely electronic ‘media-theater.’”
Apr 20, 2023
Read an excerpt from the Signals: How Video Transformed the World exhibition catalogue, about artists who use video to take on urgent questions around witnessing, protest, policing, and race.
Mar 7, 2023