We present three short films: Restoration (11:52 mins, 2018), In View (7:07 mins, 2017), and Light Horizon (7:33 mins, 2012). The screening is followed by a conversation in Arabic with artist and director Randa Maddah.
Video, 11:52. 2018.
Those in search of themselves often cannot remember what was there before their countries were destroyed. All that remains is brittle flakes of debris invading the lacunae of their memory. Their own fragility blocks their way, while amnesia lies in ambush, and along the road rise tombstones of memory. Still, the wounded consciousness, as it makes its way from one land to another, keeps manoeuvring to avoid pain as if it never existed.
How could I understand destruction? Borders deformed the place from which I came, changed the map, erected walls around people’s daily lives and within their language, until they had nearly forgotten it. The place that was destroyed is now devoid of human life, and now even its history has begun to vanish. Ruins dominate the scene. History and geography have been dismantled and reshaped by occupiers’ hands.
The materials used in this video are as fragile as they appear. Through it, I tried to repair the irreparable. So I collected what was left behind by the people who once lived here, after the occupation had seized their land and expelled them. Cement shards and old photographs are all that’s left of this place that oblivion will engulf and efface. I clipped some elements from those photographs, hoping, even in despair, to find an alternative land, even if this attempt is doomed to oblivion, like the stories, like all the erased villages.
Video, 7:07, 2017.
Shot from the rooftop of her house in Majdal Shams, this video connects, through a complex construction of moving mirrors, both sides of the borderline which cut through Syrian Golan heights since the 1967 six days war. Located on the cease-fire line, Majdal Shams, is a witness to this tragic separation where the majority of the local population were deported to Syria, unable to return to their homes and meet with their families. Through the mirrors, Israeli and Syrian military installations are put on the same view line. The population on both sides of the border are subject to the same oppression. They share an equal sense of lost identity and erased memory. For the artist, it is a fragmented vision of her fragmented self, in a beautiful landscape that she feels her own.
Video, 7:22, 2012.
A woman meticulously tidies up the room of a ruined house in the village of Ain Fit in the occupied Syrian Golan. This village was destroyed by the Israeli forces in 1967 as well as many other villages. The inhabitants were prevented from coming back to their houses and flew over to Syria where they were parked into refugee camps, separated from the rest of their families. Randa Maddah was born in one of the few remaining villages, Majdal Shams which is located on the cease-fire line from where she can contemplate the inaccessible “other side”.
One fixed camera films the artist doing housework in a ruined house and refurbishing it with floating curtains, a table, a chair and a strange object which looks like a bomb. After she finishes her work, the artist sits and contemplates the horizon towards Syria where Syrian refugees from the Golan suffer the hardship of a terrible war.
The video connects the exiled from both sides of the border, through the empathic process of a mirror image where everyday life resists oblivion. By creating a familiarity in the midst of tragedy and destruction, by maintaining the property of the uprooted, by ritualizing their lost lives, it calls for their return.
Randa Maddah was born in 1983, Majdal Shams, occupied Syrian Golan. After finishing courses in painting and sculpture at Adham Ismail Center, Damascus in 2003, she graduated from Damascus University, the faculty of fine arts, department of sculpture, 2005. In 2007, Randa also took etching courses at the Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Her work has been described by John Berger as ‘There is a power in this work (Puppet Theater) such as I have seen in no other. It has claimed the ground on which it is standing. It has made the killing field between the aghast spectators and the agonizing victims sacred. It has changed the floor of a parking lot into something landswept’. In 2020, she obtained her masters’ degree in arts at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Paris. Randa, among fellow young artists, is a founding member of Fateh Al Mudarris Center for Arts and Culture, occupied Golan Heights. She is also a member of “l’association Portes ouvertes sur l’art”.