Jananne Al-Ani's new exhibition, 'The Visit', is a work in two parts, in which repeated scenes of a mysterious figure pacing in an empty landscape are contrasted with a series of equally fragmentary conversational exchanges between a group of young women.
In the large-scale projection work, 'Muse', the ghostly shimmer of a desert heat-haze prefigures the appearance of a smart-suited man restlessly walking across the same small strip of parched terrain. Over seven separate sequences, the camera returns to observe him - the passage of time marked by changes in the light, and by the play of lengthening, deepening shadows.
Meanwhile, in the multi-screen piece, 'Echo', the women discuss a correspondingly absent figure - an unnamed visitor whose recent re-appearance has both sharpened their feelings toward him and illuminated the extent to which he passes in and out of their lives. Talking amongst, and often over, each other, shared histories and affinities are pieced together, although the relationship between the subject of their conversation and the man waiting and pacing in the desert landscape is never resolved.
'The Visit' is Jananne Al-Ani's most ambitious project to date, and adds to an impressive body of video and photographic work, distinguished by its finely-honed, evocative portraits and its complex, often intimate narratives.
'The Visit' was commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and Norwich Gallery. It receives its first staging at Norwich Gallery, running from 10 November to 17 December. The exhibition tours to Newlyn Art Gallery (15 January to 20 February), and the Art Now space at Tate Britain (4 February to 3 April). The project has been supported by Arts Council England, Film London and the Henry Moore Foundation.
Jananne Al-Ani was born in Iraq in 1966. She lives and works in London. She studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art and the Royal College of Art, and has exhibited widely in Britain and internationally. Recent solo shows include Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles (2002). Recent group exhibitions include Love Affairs, IFA-Galerie, Stuttgart, touring to Bonn and Berlin; And the One doesn't stir without the Other, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast and Disorientation, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. Al-Ani co-curated the exhibition Veil at The New Art Gallery, Walsall, touring to the Bluecoat and Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool; Modern Art Oxford and Kulturhuset Stockholm (2003/04). She was the recipient of the East International Award (2000) and her works can be found in public collections including the Arts Council England and the Imperial War Museum, London; the Pompidou Centre, Paris and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC.