Mounir Fatmi (b. 1970)
Mounir Fatmi - Dieu me pardonne (Morocco/France (2001-2004)
From Resistance(s): Experimental Films from the Middle East and North Africa

Dieu me pardonne (2001) is a barrage of images that make you feel that looking is dangerous to the looker: pornography; a shot of Israeli soldiers throwing a Palestinian man and child to the ground; a martyr’s coffin. An insistent, troubling electronic squeal and metronomic tap enhance the feeling of danger, and the blur and solarization Fatmi uses so often have the effect here of making the images seem to seep into your body through your eyes like an infection. “May God forgive me'—for the lustful and murderous thoughts that these images brought upon me. At intervals three texts appear: “the first look is for you / the second is for the devil / the third look is a crime,' this last over an aerial shot of the bombing of Baghdad from the viewpoint of its destroyers.

An interesting pair of images of women who are barely more than white silhouettes recurs in Dieu me pardone. One is a scantily clad, pale-limbed cabaret dancer who pirouettes while a circle of men in suits close in on her, clapping; the other is the slim, white-veiled figure of a woman on the street, probably in Morocco. Both seem cut out of the visible, but the dancer’s body and the shape of her pretty legs cuts a feeling of desire into us, while the veiled woman is shielded, so both she and we are safe. -- Laura U. Marks