In this book, Laura Marks examines one of the world’s most impressive, and affecting, bodies of independent and experimental cinema from the last twenty-five years: film and video works from the Arabic-speaking world. Some of these works’ creative strategies are shared by filmmakers around the world; others arise from the particular economic, social, political, and historical circumstances of Arab countries, whose urgency, Marks argues, seems to demand experiment and invention.
Grounded in a study of infrastructures for independent and experimental media art in the Arab world and a broad knowledge of hundreds of films and videos, Hanan al-Cinema approaches these works thematically. Topics include the nomadism of the highway, nostalgia for ‘70s radicalism, a romance with the archive, algorithmic and glitch media, haptic and networked space, and cinema of the body. Marks develops an aesthetic of enfolding and unfolding to elucidate the different ways that cinema can make events perceptible, seek connections among them, and unfold in the bodies and thoughts of audiences.
The phrase Hanan al-cinema expresses the way movies sympathize with the world and the way audiences feel affection for, and are affected by, them. Marks’s clear and expressive writing conveys these affections in works by such internationally recognized artists and filmmakers as Akram Zaatari, Elia Suleiman, Hassan Khan, Mounir Fatmi, and Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, and others who should be better known.
“This is one of the most well-researched and engaging books I have ever read on the recent history of moving image in the Arab world and is an urgently required text on the subject. It should be eagerly consumed by many!” —Omar Kholeif, writer and Curator, Whitechapel Gallery, London
“Engaging with the relatively new field of experimental cinema from the Arab world, Laura U. Marks has produced a readily accessible, acutely observed, and carefully historicized account of a complex field of study that already feels seminal in its impact and insights.” —Anthony Downey, Editor-in-Chief, Ibraaz
“Laura U. Marks is one of the most original and remarkable minds of this generation. Hanan al-Cinema is a singular achievement that continues Marks's journey through experimental film and video, vanguard media studies, and her deep engagement with Arab visual culture. Introducing a body of work that will be unfamiliar to many, Marks’s searching analyses and insights make an invaluable contribution to the field.” —Akira Mizuta Lippit, Chair, Bryan Singer Division of Critical Studies, USC School of Cinematic Arts
Laura U. Marks is Dena Wosk University Professor in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (MIT Press).