In many of Ghassan Salhab’s films, ‘travel’ serves as a foil for other kinds of ‘transport’ that circumnavigate intention, orientation and linear temporality.
In his SB13 commission Chinese Ink (2017), composed from a series of shots taken with an iPhone, the film director expands on these concerns through questions of location and the act of filmmaking itself. Some images were captured in the moment ‘without quite knowing why’, and others were filmed at an earlier time ‘with no apparent motive' or as a result of specific circumstances. Salhab jotted down notes all along, excerpts from books he read or reread, sounds he recorded and preserved. He approached this film-essay as a work in progress with no preconceived structure; instead, he let the work gradually ‘reveal’ itself, incorporating in its journey more than one resonance. All at once, in terms of ‘place’ and his relationship to ‘here’, with all its entanglements, it became clear to him that he needed to invoke the ‘elsewhere’, to start with the first place, his childhood in Senegal, and ‘retrace’ certain steps: his connection to armed struggles, the Palestinian cause, the present time…. All of these elements ‘earned’—or at least tried to earn—their place within the film as they attempted to impose their presence on him.
This project was part of Sharjah Biennial 13.