Nesrine Khodr

Extended Sea
2017

15.2.–26.2. daily 11:00–21:00, except Thu. 22.2: 11:00–19:00 Akademie der Künste

2-channel video installation, 705 min. Without dialogue.

A static shot of a swimming pool. In the background the Mediterranean Sea. A woman swims back and forth across the frame, starting in darkness, from sunrise through noon, until the afternoon, sunset, and subsequent darkness.
Filmed in an outdoor pool located on the Beirut coast, Extended Sea is a 12-hour single shot from dawn to dusk, where kilometers are crossed through one single frame. In or out of the beholder’s sight, the woman swims without fail, in real time. Boats cross behind her, a few swimmers floating here and there in the sea while she pursues her in and outs. At noon she disappears for a while, perhaps an hour. The frame remains fixated, as it has since dawn. Nothing moves the water in the pool except the wind. The light changes in a manner that is barely perceptible. In the early afternoon she reappears and continues her swimming as the sun bears down strongly on the pool. Then disappears once more. She returns with her steady motion, swims back and forth, vigorously at times, in slow motion at others, disappears for a while then returns until dusk and nightfall.

Nesrine Khodr is a visual artist and television producer living and working in Beirut. She works in film/video, print, and performance. She studied history at the American University of Beirut, and European film studies at the University of Edinburgh, and between 2003–04 was an artist in residence at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Her work has been shown in exhibitions, biennials, and film festivals worldwide.

Some thoughts around the swim:

As I swam, the movement of thoughts in and out of my mind became that of my crossing in and out of the frame.
Had I been swimming these distances in the sea behind me, tracing different lines across the Mediterranean, where my strokes would have led me is one thought that appeared at different moments of the day.
A straight line with the shore to my left would have taken me to the Beirut airport 9 kilometers away, I thought, as planes succeeded themselves above me. On other not-so-distant shores, this treading of the water would have perhaps taken me from Turkey’s mainland to the island of Lesbos in Greece, over a distance of 9.6 kilometers. The uneasy tides of the Strait of Gibraltar spanning over 14.4 kilometers kept appearing in my thoughts as well.
The swim from dawn to dusk occupied at least nine hours, largely and virtually covering all these distances. I did not attach any special meaning to these calculations, rather I kept drawing my pool lines. Yet I thought of one simple gesture’s potential to become a metaphor.

(Nesrine Khodr)

Production Nesrine Khodr. Production company Nesrine Khodr (Beirut, Lebanon). Director Nesrine Khodr. Director of photography Mark Khalife. Sound design Rana Eid. Sound editor Sandra Tabet. Colourist Belal Hibri. With Nesrine Khodr (Swimmer).

Films

1998: Of seduction (32 min., with Ghassan Salhab). 2000: Ain Al Hamra (Red is the colour of My Eye) (23 min.). 2003: Lastfall (2 min.), I Swam in the Sea (2 min.), Downtown Amman- Urbanportraits (18 min.). 2004: Enclosures (22 min.), Several Inadequate Things To Say and Do (17 min., with Jeremiah Day). 2005: L’avancée (14 min.). 2008: Untitled 12 Scenes of Disaster (video installation). 2011: Winter Wind (4 min.). 2015: Ellipses, a conversation with Omar Amiralay (43 min., with Sandra Iche). 2017: Extended Sea.

Photo: © Nesrine Khodr