Click on the image to see the full Video – The Great Game: A New World Order?” is a three channel video which explores the new colonization embodied in globalization. Through comparative strategies, the viewer is asked to examine the differences between the current glorification of US war technology, the past glory of the British Empire and the glamorization of the 3rd Reich as expressed in the Nazi propaganda film, “Triumph of the Will”. While growing up under British India, the artist’s father not only loved the British style but was also seduced with its glory. After immigrating to the US, he was very critical of the American imperialist agenda, while maintaining a good deal of nostalgia for British India. Khan Reddy finds herself questioning some of these same contradictions. She raises the questions: Does longing to identify with a discredited history negate the understanding of critical issues? Is the nostalgic fetishization of the British Royal Era the same as the festishization of war technology? (4 minutes).
Sarina Khan Reddy’s latest performance video work is a deeply personal and yet very public as. She engages in self-examination to express her desires, frustrations and ideological views as an American mother and a South Asian diasporic artist. This three channel video performance explores the differences within her cultural identity as an Islamic-American woman where she questioning the dominant ideology around domesticity, hysteria and the body in the West.
She uses straightforward video, setting up a stationary camera and filming herself Sufi dancing, whirling, sensual movement and open eye meditation, braking the 4th wall in film and returning the gaze. She appropriates, short clips from mass media, for example the Brady Bunch to disrupt the meditative performance. She juxtaposes this with her life as a middle class mother raising children, disciplining, and meeting the mundane responsibilities of running a household. Across the three three screens a subversive ticker tape runs, questioning motherhood and self exploration.
Growing up in a dual household with a traditional Indian father and a puritanical, Yankee, reserved new England mother, she later became interested in the mystical aspects of her Indian heritage. She spent over a decade exploring the Sufi tradition as well as becoming an initiate of the South Indian tradition, Sri Vidya and learning the complex rituals associated with it. Both of these traditions emphasis the notion that self-realization is through the body, that exploring the longing and desire buried deep in every human heart is done by opening the heart and letting the body lead, not the mind or ego. In many Eastern philosophies the body is considered the Devine, in the West it is often objectified.
She raises the questions: Can a middle class American mother reconcile the conflict of the culture of a “Soccer Mom” with a deep inner calling to explore consciousness through the body? Does she have time? Will she feel guilty? Can she attend to domestic duties, career, motherhood and inner callings? Does she need safety and certainty? Can we try to live outside or our cultural ideology and its imposed morals?
“The Western Taj Mahal” – This piece explores the many meanings of the Taj Mahal. Has the Taj Mahal become a colonialist subject of appropriation? Was the Taj Mahal the ideal symbol of love and devotion or was Shajahan’s intention to create the ultimate symbol of Islam? Was the monument remade, sanitized, exoticized and appropriated by the West? Is it Indian at all? (4 minutes)
“License to Kill” – This single channel video questions how Pop culture perpetuates colonialists values of created notions of “civilized” through the glorification of violence, visually articulating Edward Said’s ground braking work Orientalism. This piece uses a James Bond theme song and couples it with graphic footage of a constructed colonist scene of a massacre of unarmed civilians who are non-white and wearing turbans. In a historical context it starts to question how these past events have contributed to events of today. (2 minutes)
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“With Us or Against Us” – This single channel video examines the blurred boundaries between entertainment and the news and the relationship between militarization and the corporate globalization. This piece shifts between footage from the Hollywood blockbuster movie Rambo III and footage in the Oval office of President Reagan meeting with Afghan “freedom fighters” with a subversive ticker-tape at the bottom of the screen. The question of how history is deliberately forgotten is raised through a metaphor of writing and erasing. (5 1/2 minutes)