Irruptions of the Real. The attempt to find a common denominator in the work of Toufic, a writer, thinker and video artist, seems even from the get-go doomed to failure, not simply because his work stretches from theory to literature to art in many books and videos, but rather, more basically, because such a task seems inappropriate: "My texts and videos do not try to accomplish the same thing, but complement each other."
The attempt to find a common denominator in the work of Jalal Toufic, a writer, thinker and video artist,
seems even from the get-go doomed to failure, not simply because his work stretches from theory to
literature to art in many books and videos, but rather, more basically, because such a task seems
inappropriate: “My texts and videos do not try to accomplish the same thing, but complement each other.”
While one finds in his books thought-provoking thoughts that are discontinuous yet together form (and
occasionally disperse) a universe that “does not fall apart two days later” (Philip K. Dick), his videos are
attempts to do something else. Whether he focuses on the yearly commemoration of the slaughter of imam
Husayn and many members of his family and companions in 680 (‘Âshûrâ’: This Blood Spilled in My Veins,
2002), or videotapes, in a single long take, his sleeping nephew (A Special Effect Termed “Time”; or,
Filming Death at Work, 2005), or, in Credits Included: A Video in Red and Green (1995), registers the
“withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster” following the fifteen-year civil-war in Lebanon, one of the
main concerns of Toufic’s videos is “providing ‘reasons to believe in this world’ (Gilles Deleuze)—through
resisting this ‘world.’” Another main concern of the works of Toufic, who describes himself as a “mortal to
death,” is mortality—less as physical death at the end of life than as a simultaneity of life and (un)death.
Jalal Toufic, *1962 in Beirut, Lebanon, or in Baghdad, Iraq, is the author of several books, such as: Distracted (1991; 2nd ed., 2003), (Vampires): An Uneasy Essay on the Undead in Film (1993; 2nd ed., 2003), Over-Sensitivity (1996), Undying Love, or Love Dies (2002), Two or Three Things I’m Dying to Tell You (2005), ‘Âshûrâ’: This Blood Spilled in My Veins (2005), The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster (2009), Forthcoming (2009) und Reading, Rewriting Poe’s “The Oval Portrait”–Angelically (100 Notes-100 Thoughts Documenta 13) (2011).
Toufics videos and film-installations have been presented in numerous international one-person and group shows, for example at: Artists Space, New York; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona or Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel. Toufic taught at the University of California in Berkeley, CalArts und USC in Los Angeles, at the Rijksadademie in Amsterdam and most recently at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, Turkey. Jalal Toufic is a guest of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm/ DAAD in 2011.
Most of Jalal Toufic’s books are available for download as PDF files at his website: www.jalaltoufic.com
In conjunction with the film program Irruptions of the Real, which comprises three of his videos, made between 2002 and 2006, Jalal Toufic will hold, on three consecutive Saturdays, a seminar titled Radical Closure on Saturdays: 14.5., 21.5., 28.5. always 4-8pm.
Image: Saving Face, 2002, (still), Video, 8min. © the artist
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