CHERINE FAHD: HELD
Nominated by Naomi Cass
Cherine Fahd’s practice is multidisciplinary and incorporates photography, video and performance. Her response to the commission was to create an ambitious 10 channel video work that sits at the seemingly mutable edges of photography and fi lm as she explores the notion of touch in a COVID world. As nominator Naomi Cass commented,
‘… Fahd is hugely adept, not only in conceiving tightly formed concepts for her series which she executes in disciplined, thrilling ways, but that she often subjects her sitters to physically or psychologically confi ned spaces.’ (Cass, 2020)
In the newly commissioned series Held, Fahd has turned the camera onto herself as she performs an act of embracing those with whom she shares an intimate relationship; her mother, son, husband, friends and colleagues, as they rotate in front of the camera.
These intensely personal works refl ect the negotiation of space, both psychologically and physically, as the isolating effect of ‘social distancing’ restricts our movement. Through various lockdowns, government mandated regulations transformed and dislocated our interactions with others, even those we hold so dear. Our interactions became mediated through screens, masks or the confined tyranny of a five kilometre radius. Upon Fahd’s screens, the subjects themselves float in an undefined, dark, ethereal void, ensconced in an intimate moment. Collectively we have perhaps never been so cognisant of the importance of being able to touch, to connect, to be with the ones we love without the weight of a pandemic at our door.
As Fahd comments, ‘I have found there is no other photographic process more intimate than the making of someone’s portrait. My practice is founded upon this knowledge; the understanding that when we face the camera, we offer ourselves to the other, to the photographer and the future audience, to be seen, taken in, looked at and measured.’ (Fahd, 2020)
Fahd’s practice often delves into the intimate relationships between photographer and subject, and how photography, as a social practice, builds connections between people. Fahd views her video practice as photographic and stands at the precipice of photography and film. This is even more interesting when you consider what video becomes in the hands of a photographer. How, Fahd considers, do we make a photograph move?
‘My practice performs photography. What I mean by this, is that I am as much fascinated by the interpersonal and relational processes behind-the-scenes, as I am in the final image. In this way, my version of photography is closely linked to performance. To pose for the camera is to perform for it.’ (Fahd, 2020)
The 10 channel video installation, baroque in its tonality with all the drama inherent in chiaroscuro, captures stillness and movement within a still frame. The digital screens are slightly smaller than human size which gives an uncanny and surreal effect, and yet invites the viewer to engage with the works as they emerge within the darkened gallery space.
from the series Held
courtesy of the artist
We have five senses: seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting and touching. In these video artworks, Cherine Fahd is thinking about our sense of touch.
Touch is when we come into contact with someone else. We may shake hands with people we meet or hug family and friends.
During COVID-19 restrictions we are asked not to touch and to keep our social distance.
Who do you miss hugging when there are restrictions in place?