Basir Mahmood

° 1985

Lives in Amsterdam (NL), lives in Lahore (PK), born in Lahore (PK).

The Pakistani filmmaker and visual artist Basir Mahmood (1985, Lahore) studied at the Beaconhouse National University in Lahore and then at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. His work takes shape between those two cities. He focuses on everyday objects, gestures and customs, as well as major historical events and social shifts. In this way he atte4mpts to explore the space that stretches between identity, distance, memory and imagination. The atmosphere of his work is subdued and stems from a sense of social injustice or inequality. He approaches social structures and hierarchies in a melancholic or empathetic way. Simultaneously Mahmood also explores his own position as an artist by taking on multiple roles: that of a committed photographer, a committed screenwriter, an uninterested passer-by or a demanding film director.

Mahmood's early work demonstrates a highly stylised visual gaze. Although he started out as a painter and photographer of stately portraits, he soon turned his focus to film and video in order to capture, distort and reinterpret reality more efficiently. The video Good ended happily (2018, 13:05 min.) examines the film industry's work processes. The artist entrusted the production to a film crew from 'Lollywood' in Lahore - once a thriving centre of Pakistan's film industry. The only clues he gave the crew were that events would revolve around the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. In the video Mahmood made all the instructions of the director, the cameraman and the assistant clearly audible, so that the entire production and filming process became a reality in itself based on the improvisational talent of the entire crew.

Following the same principle - but more gripping as a result - Sunsets, everyday (2020) is a meticulously constructed indictment of domestic violence. During the lockdown the artist noticed that some victims had the courage to share photos of their physical scars on social media as a way of encouraging other women to report such crimes. Mahmood ordered his production team in Lahore to create a domestic violence scene in his absence based on his instructions and various reference images. While the crew carried out this assignment two cameramen were asked to continually film the entire process and all elements of the set but not the violence itself. The artist rejected any form of spectacle but focused on what normally takes place outside the field of view. The characters in this meta-cinema are the technicians who have to carry out his exhaustive instructions for hours on end. The video expresses the routine nature of violence in an extremely haunting way.

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