Critic’s pick: Haris Epaminonda’s ‘Tarahi II’

At the end of October, Haris Epaminonda’s video “Tarahi II” screened during the Arab Shorts Festival at the Goethe Institute in Cairo. It was part of a program of supremely quiet, largely non-narrative films compiled by artist Maha Maamoun and curator Sarah Rifky. Epaminonda’s work, running only three and a half minutes, was entrancing despite its brevity, and seemed somehow to linger in the air after the program finished.

The film is composed of footage of a hotel room television, captured when Epaminonda visited Cairo. The screen moves from take to take, each shot closed tightly around the face of famous Egyptian actress Samira Ahmed. The woman is beautiful and sad, and abstractly intriguing. As a quiet piano score underlines the images, the actress’s disembodied expressions appear like memories, simultaneously personal and collective.
Since watching “Tarahi II” months ago, the woman’s image and her mysterious sorrow haven’t left my mind. Epaminonda, a native of Cyprus who now lives in Berlin, creates haunting assemblages of mostly found footage, her carefully combined images and sounds constructing new emotional landscapes of memory and experience.
This piece was originally published in Egypt Independent's weekly print edition.

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