Naeem Mohaiemen

Jole Dobe Na / Those Who Do Not Drown
India, Japan, Sweden 2020

Single-channel video installation, 64 min. Bengali.

In an empty hospital in Kolkata, India, a man faces protocols of blood, a subtly discriminatory office, and a vacant operating theater. His mind is on a loop of the last months of his wife’s life, when a quiet argument developed. When is the end of pharma-medical care, whose life is it anyway? They were an estranged couple, thrown back into intimacy by an unknown illness. Even in a dreamworld of his making, the paranoia of infection is twinned with a hesitant intimacy. The film revisits themes from Mohaiemen’s earlier Tripoli Cancelled (2017): family unit as locus for pain-beauty dyads, abandoned buildings as staging ground for lost souls, and the necessity of small prevarications to keep on living. In Tripoli, the boredom of daily life is punctuated by letters to an invisible wife, and endless readings of Richard Adams’s dark children’s book “Watership Down”. In Jole Dobe Na, a memory of final days is kept alive by the partner, and the book readings are from Syed Mujtaba Ali’s stories of Europe between the two wars.

Naeem Mohaiemen combines essays, films, photography, and installations to research the idea of socialism, incomplete decolonization, shifting borders, and unreliable memory. Despite underscoring a historic left tendency toward misrecognition of allies, a hope for a future transnational left as the only possible alternative to current cages of race and religion is a basis for the work. He was a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, 2018 Turner Prize finalist, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Herb Alpert Award. His films have been programmed at film festivals internationally. He is the author of “Midnight’s Third Child” (Nokta, forthcoming) and “Prisoners of Shothik Itihash” (Kunsthalle Basel, 2014), as well as co-editor of several other volumes. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions and biennales around the world and is housed in the permanent collections of Kiran Nadar Museum, Delhi, Museum of Modern Art, New York and Tate Modern, London, among others. He has a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University.

Production Naeem Mohaiemen. Production company Shobak Films (New York, USA). Written and directed by Naeem Mohaiemen. Cinematography Basab Mullick. Editing Naeem Mohaiemen, Chandan Biswas. Music Qasim Naqvi, Ali Sehir. Sound design Sukanta Majumdar. Production design Prithwiraj De. Casting Debleena Sen, Priyanka Dasgupta. Assistant director Moinak Guho. Commissioned by Bildmuseet Umea, Sweden, Yokohama Triennale, Japan. With Sagnik Mukherjee (Jyoti), Kheya Chattopadhyay (Sufiya), Trina Nileena Banerjee (Voice of Sufiya).

Films

2004: Disappeared in America: Patriot Story (with Jawad Metni, 7 min.), Disappeared in America: Lingering Twenty (with Sehban Zaidi, 5 min.). 2005: Disappeared in America: Fear of Flying (with Ajana Malhotra, 9 Min.). 2006: Disappeared in America: Invisible Man (5 min.). 2009: SMS Iran (After Gilles Peress) (with Mary Walling Blackburn, 9 min.), Nayak / Lost Hero of History (6 min.). 2011: Der Weisse Engel (8 min.). 2012: White Teeth (Your Mysterious Neighbors) (4 min.), United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part 1) (70 min.). 2013: Rankin Street, 1953 (7 min.), Sharjah Barbershop. 2014: Afsan’s Long Day (The Young Man Was, Part 2) (40 min.). 2015: Last Man in Dhaka Central (The Young Man Was, Part 3) (82 min.). 2016: Abu Ammar is Coming (6 min., Forum Expanded 2016), The Company Fatah (7 min.). 2017: Century's Container, Tripoli Cancelled (93 min.), Two Meetings and a Funeral (Videoinstallation, 88 min.). 2020: Jole Dobe Na / Those Who Do Not Drown.

Photo: © Naeem Mohaiemen