ON EXILE, elsewhere within here
A film by José Carlos Teixeira
Director of Photography: Nicholas WYNIA
As a quiet meditation, "On Exile" follows the moving stories of Muslim refugees from Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan, resettled in the US. This film creates intimate psychological portraits, restores the refugees’ voices, and allows them full personal and political agency.
As the American critic and journalist Steven Litt puts it, this is “a remarkably beautiful document that peels away layers of cliche and stereotypes to reveal the radiant humanity of Teixeira’s subjects, who come from countries torn by civil war or the fight against ISIS, the Islamic State.”
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At the intersection of art and politics, "On Exile" is a documentary that reflects on the refugee experience, expanding on issues of migration, displacement, and otherness.
It follows the moving and extraordinary stories of 14 refugees from Middle Eastern and African Muslim communities (Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia) resettled in Cleveland, developing intimate psychological portraits, and embedding them in a political and anthropological context.
What are their stories and perspectives as immigrants in the US? How are the new policies impacting them?
Concerned with the ethics of ethnographic encounter, the film asks: how to represent without patronizing or speaking on other's behalf? As opposed to a dominant discourse which denies refugees full agency, this film restores their voices.
"On Exile" reframes assumptions of home and belonging, delves into the challenges of language and translation, and reflects on the complex adjustment to another culture by those who, forcibly displaced, seek safety and a new beginning...
"Every refugee, regardless of nationality, race or creed, points to the refugee within ourselves"
(K. C. Cirtautas)
Production and Support:
SPACES, MAAT, UW-Madison,
USCRI (United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants)
This project was initially commissioned by SPACES, within the R&D program, and it premiered on August 18, 2017. It then traveled to Lisbon (Portugal) in November 2017, for a solo exhibition of the artist's work at MAAT, Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology, curated by João Pinharanda and Ana Anacleto (production by Fernando Ribeiro).
In March 2018, it returned to the US, to be shown as part of Teixeira's solo exhibition at MMOCA (Madison Museum of Contemporary Art).