Refusing to Meet Your Eye
2022, One Channel Video and Photo Archive, 13’33”, HD, Color, Black&White, Sound

August 1969, Leila Khaled and Salim Al-Issawi, two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hijack flight TWA840 on its way from Rome to Tel-Aviv, diverting it to Damascus Airport. Leila–the first female hijacker–describes details of the operation and the PFLP’s intentions behind blowing up the empty plane in Damascus in her autobiography, stating that a photographer hired by the PFLP was waiting at the airport to document the explosion for archival purposes. Nevertheless, he forgets to take off the cap of his camera lens and the archive is left with a black photograph.

The artist takes the black photograph as a point of departure for this work, investigating what images can tell us and how we read them in relation to historiography and the processes of archival ‘truth-making’. Making connections between available footage, existing images, and computer-generated imagery, Refusing to Meet Your Eye1 proposes to the viewer a kaleidoscopic narrative where images occupy many positions; archival, historical, familiar, strange, and fictional. A narrative where the past, present, and future overlap temporally and spatially.

1 The title ‘Refusing to Meet Your Eye’ is borrowed from Katharine Viner’s description of the iconic image of Leila Khaled in the Guardian: ‘The picture which made her the symbol of Palestinian resistance and female power… the shiny hair wrapped in a keffiyeh, the delicate Audrey Hepburn face refusing to meet your eye.’

* This work was funded by Ettijahat- Independent Culture, Laboratory of Arts, 7th Edition.

Stills, Refusing to Meet Your Eye, One Channel Video and Photo Archive, 2022

Refusing to Meet Your Eye, One Channel Video and Photo Archive, Installation View @mumok Vienna, 2022