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A Loving Man

Jananne Al-Ani
1996-99
15 mins Colour Video
5 screen video installation

A Loving Man

A memory game engages the spectator of the video installation A Loving Man as the artist, her three sisters and her mother voice their recollections of a loving man, a husband and father who is absent.

Each woman wrote down ten things that she remembered about the man from which the artist selected and composed the text. On the day of the filming, each member of the family was given the text to memorise briefly. Dressed in black and starkly made up, they recite the text in front of the camera in the form of a children's memory game. (Mrs Brown went to town and bought..) The structure of A Loving Man is a reminder of the sisters' childhood in Iraq, when they used to play the memory game to amuse themselves during long car journeys.

The mother and daughters, now separated from their husband/father, recall in turn their memories of this man, their feelings about him and his role in their present life. Each sentence of the text is repeated by one player after another and each one adds a new phrase to the sequence. Now elevated to the performance of a ritual, the construct is periodically threatened by one of the sisters who almost forgets her lines, provoking laughter. Rather than drilling her family member until they were word perfect, Al-Ani deliberately retained the shaky parts as a reminder that theses are indeed real people recalling their own past.

Extract from 'Jananne Al-Ani', Bergit Arends, Imperial War Museum leaflet, 1999

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