Karail, 2016–17
Video installation
Two channels, 14 min. each

The work Karail takes a rhythmanalytical approach, employing the cartographic recording technology of the camera, a tool of reason that generates the representations of space dominating its social production. In presenting two alternate approaches to documentation—one animated by the rhythms of navigation, the other by the rhythms of daily rituals and habits—the work creates room for thinking the representational, challenging narratives of supposedly neutral scientific representations.

Karail Basti, the subject of the video installation Karail, is a 190,000 m² self-organized settlement in Dhaka, Bangladesh with approximately 120,000 inhabitants. Often designated as a “slum,” the Bengali word basti translates simply to “settlement.” The work portrays Karail Basti not as a degenerate “slum,” but rather as a legitimate human settlement with its own nested logic of habitat production. Everyday life, in all its abundance, is represented via images corrupted by architecture, and vice versa.

Utilizing wood and corrugated iron, the installation emphasizes the settlement’s vernacular materiality and tectonics. It carries fragments of the everyday: a “LUCKY” brick and a painted zebu figure in reference to Cow Brand sheet metal. Two original videos show alternate modes of spatial perception: a walk-through video projected on corrugated iron meanders through Karail Basti’s labyrinthine passages, maintaining its rationalist one-point perspective; a video shown on a CRT monitor zooms into the sensuality of human-material interactions.

This work was made possible through the support of Habitat Forum Berlin, under the leadership of Dr. Elisa T. Bertuzzo and Dr. Günter Nest, whose solidarity with the residents of Karail has been invaluable. Thanks to Sadia Sharmin for her assistance during the filming process.

Documented at the exhibition, bitte bitte bitte – Weissensee School of Art Degree Show, SEZ Berlin, July–August 2017.

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