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1-Channel Video Installation (2020)

3 minutes 47 seconds

Screentime (2020), is a two-channel video work commissioned by Toofar for Art Dubai's Khaleeji Music exhibition. The artwork meticulously stitches together a myriad of television clips foraged from the Bahrain TV archives, specifically from the 1970s. The decade harbors immense significance as it carried with it Bahrain’s emancipation from being a British protectorate and also its pioneering regionally as the first Gulf country to create national television programming. The installation offers a visual banter, in the form of a call and response, between sequences plucked from the 1977 game show “Fares Al Asbo’” (The Conqueror of the Week), and clips of women dancing and performing folk songs in the form of jalsat, an extremely popular during that time. In many ways, the dual frames can be seen as a performance themselves as they change in shape as well as alternating in prominence to break any form of preconceived hierarchy.

Although the scrambling of the visuals and audio seem playful, Screentime challenges the Lacanian male gaze as it focuses on the surveillance and capturing of women on camera. It deliberately occupies the screen with women and pushes any masculine depiction out of frame. Altogether, the installation depicts a multitude of dichotomies; it shifts the gaze from male to female, plays with the concepts of subject and object, and highlights the performative behaviors of the female as both an audience member and a willing participator. By shifting the gaze to female protagonists, Screentime reappropriates it's collected television material and alternates the narrative that dominated broadcasting culture in Bahrain and also the rest of the world at that time. By means of distortion and clever re-piecing of sound and image, the installation both empowers the feminine and directs the lens towards what would be lost in the peripheries.

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