Universes

HD One Channel | sound | 60 min | Video Installation / movie theater | israel-France | 2000-03


Universes is a self-portrait with mindset flickers; forms, colors, textures, and sounds that do not obey a narrative frame; an experiential-physical road movie that progresses into a mental world with a regularity of its own. Universes become interwoven – worlds devoid of spatial or temporal landmarks, fusing reality and illusion: Europe, the Middle East, Judaism, Christianity, Zionism, war, superstition, periphery and center. An assemblage of still photographs, subjected to a unique scripting process, outlines a route of motion in them to generate slow moving images, a seismograph of consciousness. Silent pictures are replaced by scenes with Dadoune’s enchanting voice singing, citing biblical verses and excerpts from his personal diaries, occasionally interrupted by a raw staccato scream, and then again – a silent echo; the scenes flow like the waters of a dark river, like pure poetry. The picture of the desert margins is taken in long shot, containing the static space as a backdrop, inviting the spectator to a meditative experience, into the realms of imagination and synesthesia. One must delve in, plunge into the boundless and indefinite chaos, in similar manner to observation of color-field paintings aspiring to the sublime.

A scratched record plays a lament. Dadoune’s naked body is dragged through a field like a rag, cast away by two men. The meaning of this cruel ritual is elucidated in the artist’s voice, reading out the punishment of a rebellious and stubborn son from Deuteronomy (21: 18-21): stoning, social ostracism of the non-normative and cursed. This is how Universes begins; one picture chases another: in one – the scream of the body parting from the soul, followed by the scream of a woman in labor, as birth, death, and rebirth are incarnated in the following scenes in a paradise of fantasy and femininity before the sin, before consciousness. Dadoune sprinkles self blame, torment, wallowing in pain, in cycles of self-destruction. He condemns himself to a contemptible death in public, on all fours like a wild animal, copulating and rolling in the thorny desert soil, standing against the backdrop of Sodom, the biblical city of sin, dressed like a bride with a calf’s head in his hand, wavering on the border line between masculinity and femininity, between sanctity, passion and demonism, which recur incessantly in his next films.


Credits

Director/Script/Music/Vocals: Joseph Dadoune

Featuring: reef Cohen, marion moricon, haïdée heury, robin de Courcy, anonymous

Director of photography: michel Coen Video editing: M.S.Brink Sound: Cirm, nice; Jorge gonzalez, miami Postproduction: Daniel azoulay gallery, miami; aaa production, nice; M.S.Brink Translations: Jason Benizri, edith halimi

Location: villa arson, nice (2000); the negev desert, the small Crater, and the Dead sea (2001); old City of safed, safed Cemetery, mount meron, banana plantation in Caesarea, hadera power station (2002); the negev monument, Be’er sheva Cemetery, Ben-gurion university of the negev, Be’er sheva; the artists’ studios, tel aviv; cemetery, municipal landfill, and elie Cabessa’s farm, ofakim; unauthorized dump on the border of the ramat aviv gimel neighborhood, tel aviv (2003)

Production: mercaba pictures

With the support of: alliance israélite universelle, paris; french embassy, tel aviv; institut français, tel aviv; Dudu Dotan fund, tel aviv; fondation du Judaïsme français, paris; vision future, nice; sitkovsky foundation, paris; european association for Jewish Culture, paris

thanks to: serge sobczynski, french embassy, tel aviv; Daniel lefort, institut français, tel aviv; irit lillian, israeli embassy, paris; amir rozenblit, Ben gurion university of the negev, Be’er sheva; Be’er sheva municipality; varda genosar, the artists’ residence, herzliya; alaplage artist Collective, toulouse; lalo papier, paris; a. Journo, eli Cabessa, patricia & israel Cohen, arnaud maguet, maryline m’gaides, Jean- marc réol, J.J. Chobard, Daniel & georgette De azoulay, miami

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