In Order to Talk with the Dead, 2018
Single channel video, 04:42
This project navigates through the French colonial control over the skulls of Algerian victims killed during the battle of Zaatcha in 1849. The French army left Algeria for Paris, taking these heads with them as “trophies” of their victory. The skulls were exhibited in the Natural History Museum in Paris for decades, under the heading "The Evolution of Humans and Human Societies".
In Order to Talk with the Dead follows the circulation of these “trophy’’ skulls in relation to their home origin and the visitors to the museum. French colonialism is forever replicated in the museum by turning the skull into an object devoid of history. This erasure anaesthetises the skulls into pieces of art, leaving them without an origin, any explanation or a name.
The video was shot in three locations: the Jericho desert, and the Musée de l’Homme and the Catacombs in Paris. Some of the found footage is archival, while other scenes have been filmed by the artist. The work examines the relationship between the museum viewer perceiving the skull as an object, and the skull gazing at the viewer as a mortal. Is the gaze between them reciprocated? Is the visitor seen by the skull? The museum is the site of these encounters, it possesses powers that alienate and disorient the viewer from their own history.
Dina Mimi is a visual artist, living and working in Jerusalem, Palestine. Her practice is multi-faceted and uses video, sound, performance and text. For the past three years, Dina has been interested in issues of death and human remains in the public sphere, such as the normalisation of death in public sites, suicide subject; martyrdom, body protest and self-immolation specifically in Palestine. She has also been researching protest as performance. Recently, for her MFA thesis, she examined the role of the body-force in public space in Palestine. She emphasises that when the body settles to perform the right to exist becomes non-negotiable.
Dina obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem in 2016, and her MFA degree in art in the public sphere from ECAV (École cantonale d'art du Valais) in Switzerland. During her studies, Dina has participated in several international art workshops and group exhibitions, such as En Marche, the Art Museum of Valais, Sion, 2017. In addition to receiving the Kanik Chung Legacy Fellowship, Boston in 2017, she has also participated in Qalandiya International in 2016.
© Photo: Courtesy of A.M. Qattan Foundation
A.M. Qattan Foundation's program to support Palestinian artists. Exhibition of the awardees and shortlisted artists. 6 Nov. - 27 Dec. 2018, AMQF Cultural Centre, Ramallah.