2016-2018 Alaa Abu Asad (Palestine)
The documentary value of photography, and of video as its derivative, lies at the centre of Alaa’s research. It engages with the semiotic tradition that considers the spectator’s experience of the artwork comparable to that of reading, insofar as the artwork is an object that demands interpretation. If photographic images are liable to be interpreted like a text (and this is only possible from the perspective enabled by one’s cultural baggage), the conclusion is that no image is innocent. This reflection is particularly pertinent when applied to Alaa’s Palestinian context of origin. Archival materials are not neutral, they allow a certain interpretation of historical, political and cultural facts that are ultimately aimed at the legitimation and consolidation of power structures. There is thus an ethical question underlying Alaa’s interest in deconstructing photographic media and their social distribution. If watching images is congruent with reading, learning to read becomes the very condition to be able to write with them.