A videotape by Jayce Salloum & Elia Suleiman
1990, 41:41, stereo
With a combination of Hollywood, European and Israeli film, documentary, news coverage and excerpts of 'live' footage shot in the West Bank and Gaza strip, Introduction to the end of an argument... critiques representation of the Middle East, Arab culture, and the Palestinian people produced by the West.
The tape mimics the dominant media's forms of representation, subverting its methodology and construction. A process of displacement and deconstruction is enacted attempting to arrest the imagery and ideology, decolonizing and recontextualizing it to provide a space for a marginalized voice consistently denied expression in the media.
Intifada, the Palestinian uprising in the Occupied Territories, has come to us courtesy of the media. And it is through the media that our impressions of the uprising have accreted via image and text. Jayce Salloum a Lebanese-Canadian artist and Elia Suleiman, a Palestinian filmmaker living in New York have taken on our accumulated (mis)impressions by tracing their genesis in cinema and television. This highly kinetic tableau of appropriated sights and sounds works most earnestly to expose the racial biases concealed in familiar images. The storehouse of misconstrued ideas about Arab culture is shown in all its cinematic splendor, from the denigrating seraglios in films such as Elvis Presley's Harem Scarum and Valentino's The Sheik, to the dehumanization of Arabs as evinced by epics like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Speaking for oneself... would be compelling if it were nothing more than this compendium of Arab stereo types, but it is much more. Taking snippets from feature films (Exodus, Lawrence of Arabia, Black Sunday, Little Drummer Girl etc.) and network news, Salloum and Suleiman have constructed an oddly wry narrative, mimicking the history of Mideast politics. Through key political phrases...we see repetitive distortions transformed into foreign policy. The injustice is of course, is that this is our history of their struggle. Speaking for oneself... is a first attempt at making the image and the act one and the same. - Steve Seid, Pacific Film Archives.