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This work is a subtle investigation of the ordinary spaces that transform and transition between the playful and the sacred as individuals enter and perform routine acts of worship or leisure. In this work consisting of several long takes, the viewer experiences the rhythms of folding and unfolding as a visual metaphor for the boundary between these seemingly disparate acts.
As in the recent case of the "Ground Zero mosque," On Broadway questions the relationships between religion, public spaces and memory in contemporary American society. It unsettles various conservative yet established ideas about the role of the "secular" in a multicultural society and asks its viewers to rethink the term's fluidity. This work is a structural account that provides subtle yet political commentary on the case.
Recorded during fall 2008 inside "a mosque" in downtown Manhattan, On Broadway asks what it means to be Muslim in Manhattan? What does it mean to be a "multicultural Muslim"? This film reassembles this issue through a return to the moving image's core, namely temporality. Such an attempt endeavors to reexamine the relation between time and space, in turn transforming cinema into a stage. As its title alludes to, On Broadway is a "song" of transformations in space and piety. Conceived as an investigation of the spatiality of religion and identity, the twist at the end of the work questions the boundaries between the spiritual and the mundane, the collective and the individual, the everyday and the political.
“Somewhere underground in New York, we witness a traditional Moslem service. The how and why of the service remains a fascinating puzzle until the end of the film. A film about dedication, faith and overcrowding in New York City.” — Rotterdam International Film Festival
“. . . the film asserts the idea that camera placement is a creative practice in itself and, second, the recorded output confirms that the audience is invited along to enjoy the event and draw its own interpretations of the event. Pure cinema? In theory, this film may be classified as such, but the appeal of watching the event unfold over the course of its duration is akin to watching a flower come into full bloom.” — Eric Sasono, Indonesian Film Critic
Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Aperture Asia Pacific International Ethnographic Documentary Festival, Australia, 2013
International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2010
Indonesian Documentary Film Festival, Indonesia, 2010
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Other Films in the Sensory Ethnography Lab Series
Demolition (Chaiqian) by JP Sniadecki (28 min, 2007) Kāle and Kāle by Stephanie Spray (50 min, 2007)
Monsoon-Reflections by Stephanie Spray (22 min, 2007)
Songhua by JP Sniadecki (28 min, 2007)
Still Life by Diana Allan (25 min, 2007)