Basma Alsharif


Basma Alsharif is an artist and filmmaker working in photography, cinema, and installation. Born in Kuwait in 1983 to Palestinian parents and raised between France and the USA, Alsharif has spent much of her life on the move. She has lived and worked nomadically between Gaza, Cairo, Beirut, Sharjah, Amman, Los Angeles, and Paris since 2007. Alsharif received her BA and MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her practice centers on the human condition in relation to shifting geopolitical landscapes, natural environments, and history. Eyal Sivan once commented, “Basma Alsharif’s work makes the claim for a generation of young Palestinian internationalist artists that the Palestinian perspective is in fact stronger than the metaphor of Palestine. This notion of a Palestinian perspective, of a gaze steeped in history and splintered by geography, means refusing to be enslaved, refusing to be merely a support for projection but instead providing a critical reflection on the nature of this projection.” Alsharif’s work has been exhibited at Palais de Tokyo, New Museum, Yamagata Documentary Film Festival, Berlinale, Sharjah Biennial, Manifesta 8, Palestine, New York, and Toronto International Film Festivals, the Whitney Biennale and five previous editions of Media City Film Festival. Her feature film Ouroboros (2017), born out of her experience in Gaza during Israel’s November 2012 military offensive, had its world premiere at Locarno Film Festival. She received a jury prize at the Sharjah Biennial, the Marion MacMahon award from Images Festival, an Honourable Mention and 2nd Prize at MCFF, and was awarded the Marcelino Botin Visual Arts grant. Basma is represented by Galerie Imane Farés in Paris. Her films and videos are distributed by Video Data Bank and Arsenal.


ONLINE SCREENING DATES: May 20 – June 10, 2021

FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM: Home Movies Gaza, 24 min, 2013; Deep Sleep, 13 min, 2014; O, Persecuted, 11.5 min, 2014  

Home Movies Gaza, 24 min, 2013

Home Movies Gaza introduces us to the Gaza Strip as a microcosm for the failure of civilization. In an attempt to describe the everyday of a place that struggles for the most basic of human rights, this video claims a perspective from within the domestic spaces of a territory that is complicated, derelict, and altogether impossible to separate from its political identity.

Deep Sleep, 13 min, 2014

A hypnosis-inducing pan-geographic shuttle built on brainwave-generating binaural beats, Deep Sleep takes us on a journey through the sound waves of Gaza to travel between different sights of modern ruin. Restricted from travel to Palestine, I learned autohypnosis for the purpose of bilocating. What results is a journey, recorded on Super 8mm film, to the ruins of ancient civilizations embedded in modern civilization in ruins, to a site ruined beyond evidence of civilization. Deep Sleep is an invitation to move from the corporeal self to the cinema space in a collective act of bilocation that transcends the limits of geographical borders and plays with the fallibility of memory. – Basma Alsharif

O, Persecuted, 11.5 min, 2014

Basma Alsharif’s O, Persecuted confronts layers of history and ideology emanating from a recently restored 1974 Palestinian militant film. The grainy black-and-white images often appear hidden, barely glowing from beneath a thick, perhaps painted surface, which a performer methodically removes over the course of the film... There is an outburst of energy as the film shifts registers and shows a series of wildly energetic beach party images. Alsharif diagnoses a troubling uncertainty and disengagement in youth which slingshots from the past to the present day. – James Hansen

The White Review: How would you describe your relationship with Palestine?

Basma Alsharif: My parents are Palestinians who met in Egypt, gave birth to me in Kuwait, moved to France, and after eight years were denied citizenship and eventually immigrated to the US. So I grew up without a national identity, even though I was lucky enough to keep visiting Gaza — where my mother’s family was living until 2009 — throughout my childhood into adulthood. I would say this lack of a national identity is part of the “Palestinian Identity” but it’s also just my personal biography — the path my parents took, the complications and privileges they had. Gaza, more than Palestine, continues to be a part of my life because it was somehow the only place I kept returning to, the only place that felt like home. Although, in reality, I am as much a foreigner there as I was in France or perhaps even the US. And, as long as I have been alive, the situation there has only grown worse. It’s hard to ignore a place that you have a connection to that you see suffer in such public, violent, and wilfully destructive ways.

Read the full interview with Basma Alsharif at The White Review here. 

Stills, and artwork courtesy Video Data Bank ©Basma Alsharif. Screening co-presented with Video Data Bank.