Rehana Zaman @ CCA, Glasgow

Rehana Zaman's first solo show in Scotland is an installation containing three variously connected and distinct video works that nimbly negotiate intimate documentary interviews with structural, formal and experimental elements

Review by Martha Horn | 02 Mar 2018

The final work in Rehana Zaman’s current show at the CCA is called Tell me the story Of all these things, taken from artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s 1982 book Dictee. On page 62 the author writes, 'One empty body waiting to contain. / Conceived for a single purpose and for the purpose only/ To contain/Made filled/ Be full.' The three film works on show present ‘empty bodies’ as vulnerable to collectivist narratives that are externally imposed on those often marginalised.

For example, Zaman uses filmic tropes to their fullest potential in Some Women, Other Women and all the Bittermen, a six part soap opera set in the Tetley Brewery. True to the form, the plot and working class characters follow certain recognisable beats and norms. It’s a deftly self-aware exercise in genre, and the overtly visible framework paradoxically destabilises its place as a stable structuring element in the work.

Filling fissures left by the subtly discomfiting scripted elements, Zaman inserts footage from meetings of Justice for Domestic Workers Leeds (J4DW). Working collaboratively with J4DW, the candid footage taken by the groups’ members is shaky, closely cropped, sometimes out of focus and captivatingly intimate.

Similarly in Lourdes and Tell me the story Of all these things, the camera seems an extension of the artist’s body. In the latter, it loosely captures an interview with her sister, Farah. Farah often digresses, reflecting on her former work patterns and roles as mother, recent divorcee, and expat labourer. Similarly, the film shifts modes between the interview, formal still lives and a CG animation of a woman made of the desert landscape she variously sits on and melts into.

The experimental forms of the films versus their conversational tendrils invoke a dynamic that creates space for lived existence, while fastidiously resisting the concretisation or safety of 'lived experience' as a category. These bodies are not to be filled so easily.

CCA, Glasgow, until 25 Mar, free