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Online videos were digitized with the support of the Regional Council of
Nord / Pas-de-Calais and digitization plans 2009 and 2010 of the french Ministry of Culture.


of FATMI Mounir

FRANCE, 1999, 00:11:02

Production : ENTRE-TEMPS
Genre : Video art, Documentary
Keyword : Alterity, Communication, Philosophy, Relation

Summary :
"(…)Again turning towards witnesses, Fatmi questions identity and visibility in his video The Others are the Others/Les Autres c’est les autres, 1999, realized in Paris and its banlieue, Mantes-la-Jolie. His camera bobbing with the rhythm of each footstep, his lens swaying from left to right, Fatmi approaches the people he meets on bustling sidewalks with the simple opener: “Can I ask you a question?” The work follows the format of Edgar Morin and Jean Rouch’s film Chronique d’été, realized on the streets of Paris in 1960. A series of short interviews, Morin and Rouch began each encounter with the question: “Are you happy?”
The first person we see Fatmi address in his video is a white-haired white man who doesn’t even acknowledge that the artist has spoken. Then a couple rushes by. “We don’t have time,” they say, without slowing. In the next images, Fatmi shows us people who stop, look at the camera and the artist, and attempt a response to Fatmi’s next question, one that he has selected from novelist Mohamid Dib’s Tree of Questions: “The world is full of strangers, who are the others?” Responses come in French, English and Arabic (which the artist has subtitled in French and English). “It’s whoever is not us,” a young woman reasons. “It’s us!” counters a young Asian man. “No comment,” murmurs another. A man explains in Arabic that there is not really much difference between the Arab and the foreigner; the question is more whether the person is “cultivated or not cultivated.”
An African man provides one of the most compelling answers presented in Fatmi’s video, explaining: “There are no foreigners because if you talk about foreigners, we are all foreigners somewhere… But once you adapt to the place or the situation, you are not a foreigner anymore.” He continues, clarifying, “If you meet someone else that you don’t know, like me, for example, I am a stranger to you. But from the moment we have a little chat, or we discuss things just a little, or we share a conversation, then I am no longer a stranger.” There is such truth in his simple reasoning, truth that so many in Fatmi’s taped encounters are afraid to approach, rushing past in feigned urgency, maintaining foreignness through a refusal to engage with a question. Fatmi closes his video with an exchange with a middle-aged Frenchman, who turns the game of strangeness onto the medium of video. “The other is him,” he says, as he pushes the lens of Fatmi’s camera so that it faces the artist directly. Placing the status of the artist at stake, the “other” is revealed as the observer, the interrogator behind the camera.(…)"

Lillian Davies, Excerpt from Suspect Language, Skira, 2012.

puce to print

Technical information : English version : 11 min. 02 sec.
Original format : video
Aspect ratio : 4/3
Chroma : Couleur
Available version(s) : Version originale française. Version originale française sous-titrée anglais

rental : 120 euros

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