Jumairy, The Snow White Chronicles (video still), 2017. Seven webcam videos, variable durations (approx. 5 mins each). Commissioned by DUCTAC.
The visceral, probing action caught in Mohammed Kazem's work 'Tongue' (1996) has always affected me in an immediate and lasting way. This impact means it has always been my favourite piece by an Emiarti artist.
The photographs are of Kazem exploring domestic items with his tongue – which sounds innocent, innocuous even – but viewing them you cannot shake the sense that you're witnessing something strange and idiosyncratic – perhaps a kind of warped behavioural impulse? That these moments are presented as serialised self-portraits, offered up for public scrutiny and consumption, feels utterly audacious – what he has exposed should, at best, be a kind of inexplicable and private personal compulsion.
I wanted to explore this terrain, asking myself what kind of compulsions I, as an artist, might also have to expose personal impulses. The exploration of the orifices in 'Tongue' feels to me to be equally about an exploration of inside/outside, openings and all driven towards a need for heightened physical connection to inanimate objects and the world at large. It made me think about other kinds of 'openings', 'gateways' and 'connections' not often or easily crossed. When I thought about connections between myself and the physical or sensory world, it led me to think about other kinds of portals, windows and modes of exchange that can be opened between the self and the sensory – particularly when these are across digital boundaries into the non-physical.
Using an algorithm to heighten this sense of division between the self and the sensory, the connection with the artwork can only be made through choice and through effort. I wanted this effort to suggest the often uncomfortable need we feel to suppress unconventional urges, like those we see erupt in 'Tongue'.