Three young men in hooded tops ride bicycles and circle a man and a woman. The chased couple wear floating white gowns and walk in an equally dreamy procession. At every turn the dreamy quality of the Artist’s work is stopped by sordid values such as those of a seedy drinking den. Shezad Dawood’s 2011 film, Trailer is played in a loop in Modern Art Oxford’s large upstairs space. This is a monumental experience as we are given slippers to wear and take a seat on a giant sofa shaped like a donut. The celluloid action shoots past us as a dramatic climax is thrown in the air.
Dawood is excellent at creating a sense of place in all his works. East meets west in the roots of all his work. In a smaller studio huge beanbags are found in darkness whilst Dawood’s film recreates 1960’s decadence with traditional Moroccan music played by a band. The experience is like sitting at a trippy concert; coloured lights flicker inside a spinning cylinder that has windows cut into it. Either side of the light show the intense eyes of the musicians are captured. The film, entitled New Dream Machine Project, records the view from many windows to the soul.
Piercing Brightness is the title to this exhibition, which also showcases a homely selection of upholstered canvases. Domestic fabrics are embroidered with silk cottons then painted on with black contemporary stripes that spell out destruction to the home spun comfort that lies beneath it.
The space-age theme of the film Trailer (which is an edited version of the Artist’s original feature film bearing the same title as this show, Piercing Brightness) is tracking down 100 special visitors that were sent to explore a new planet. It is not clear exactly who these visitors are or why they cannot be found. Even though the donut shaped white sofa is deeply comfortable, peril lies in the air. Perhaps the missing visitors are the people around me, watching the film in the semi-darkness.
Lita Doolan (DI Reviewer), 05/06/12
This show consists of three films, some paintings and a bit of neon lighting. The first film is in the basement and shows the 'artist' and 'film director', Shezad Dawood, being interviewed. He says 'sort of', and 'kind of' quite a bit, and gives the impression that his viewers can take whatever they wish from his work.
The second film is a fifteen minute collection of snippets from a longer cinematographic show which is an alien invasion kind of thing. Two extra-terrestrials have come to earth to find some other aliens, but apparently they have forgotten their mission. But I can only tell this from the blurb - the 'fragmentation' and 'non-linear narratives' do not make for an easy reading of this story - the director seems to actually want us to lose the plot. It is called 'Trailer', but it is not like an ordinary trailer, as the shots are longer, and they seem to be in the wrong order.
Why this 'experimental' trailer has been made after, I presume, the original piece has been released, is beyond me - perhaps a second Arts Council and Lottery sponsored bite at the cherry?
The third film is just a kind of hippy-ish north African music jam shot live with a western musician supplying the multi-culturalistic angle (for the grant applications?) There is a kind of lava lamp, or at least a lamp which revolves showing various bright colours - quite psychedelic - which is kind of primitive, amateur nineteen-seventies Top of the Pops fare really.
Dawood and his admirers, who have written effusively around the show in books and leaflets - seem to think that this is new and revolutionary work - but surely everyone knows that repetitive music and dim lights can evoke a dreamlike state? There's nothing new about that.
All in all, I think one would be better off finding a park and looking at the squirrels gamboling on the grass (look at them go !) ... This show is on until the 10th of June & not open on mondays.
I think I am right in saying that this show is quite miraculous, despite what I've said above, because Dawood has secured funding for it, and got the use of a great space to show it. Now, where can I get some doilies?
michael paul (Unverified), 30/05/12
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