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In 2008, a group of researchers, writers, and filmmakers worked on producing a documentary that attempted to describe experiences of migration by sea from the north coast of Egypt to Europe. Eight years later, now in the face of exasperatingly high and desperate global migratory movements, two members of Take to the Sea, the collective behind the documentary, revisit the video footage produced in the process, looking back at some of the frail moments left ashore in formal narratives of migration and documentary filmmaking. Hawamesh Aan Al-Hegra is an attempt to look into the space between the filmmakers and their subjects, at times collapsing it and at others disrupting it. Set between a projection of a scrutinized sun – pixilated and zoomed in from the video footage – and an assemblage of video fragments, Hawamesh Aan Al-Hegra sneaks out of its traditional origins as a documentary and zooms into the materiality of images that endure on pixels and in memory.
Hawamesh Aan Al-Hegra was realized by two members of the Take to the Sea collective: Lina Attalah and Mohamed A. Gawad.
Take to the Sea started as an open-ended research project concerned with irregular migration from Egypt to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea in early 2008. Since then it has mutated many times, and different minds and motivations have migrated to and through it to produce image, sound, and text-based work that has circulated in film festivals, art exhibitions, and various publications in Arabic and English. In a more recent avatar, Take to the Sea turned the tide in on itself: They now interrogate their own ideas about migration, displacement, borders, and agency instead of looking to other subjects.
Lina Attalah is a journalist and writer based in Cairo.
Mohamed A. Gawad is an editor and filmmaker based in Cairo. He is co-founder of Cimatheque, and a board member of CIC – Contemporary Image Collective.
Production: Take to the Sea, Cairo
Format: 2-channel video installation, color
Running time: 10 min
Photo: © Take to the Sea