The Exception and the Rule
This work is part of The Museum of non Participation:
Museum of non Participation
Shot primarily in Karachi, The Exception and the Rule employs a variety of strategies in negotiating consciously political themes. Avoiding traditional documentary modes, the film frames everyday activities within a period of civil unrest, incorporating performances to camera, public interventions and observation. This complex work supplements Mirza/Butler's Artangel project 'The Museum of Non Participation'. - Mark Webber London Film Festival
The Exception and the Rule
Karen Mirza & Brad Butler, U.K./India/Pakistan, 37m; Digi Beta/DVcam, color/b&w, sound
Contextual Text on the Exception and the Rule by Gemma Sharpe for Afterall Online
The Exception and the Rule (2009) is part of Mirza and Butler's current body of work, ‘The Museum of non Participation’. The Museum was developed after two residencies at Vasl Artists Association in Karachi, Pakistan. Vasl is an artist-led residency and project programme that is part of the Triangle Arts Trust’s ‘South Asia Network’, a network that also includes Khoj in India and Britto in Bangladesh. In Karachi, the ‘Museum of Non Participation’ was a museum of gesture constituted by workshops, a newspaper, street interventions and public events. Supported by the Artangel Interaction Programme, the Museum when it was based in London, occupied a space behind a barber’s shop on the Bethnal Green Road. The Exception and the Rule was shown in the space, along with a newspaper, a library and a running programme of events, language classes and public seminars. The film, shot in Pakistan, India and the UK, is more than a document of the journeys that were undertaken throughout this project. Throughout the film, its very organs of narrative, production and material are thrown into question, particularly through text and speech, and its own system of editing and structure. Beginning and ending in London, the film is punctuated by an ‘Intermission’ that involves footage of the daily India-Pakistan Wagah border ceremony. The narrative of film is characterised by succession and interruption; often sounds or phrases are repeated at an almost grating level of echo, but there is never a point of recurrence or return within the work at large. A scene or event is never visited twice, and so the film becomes a cumulative assembly of voice, image, citation, actor, participant and situation.
Mirza and Butler text
Every morning in Karachi we read the local newspapers. This became a pattern. The front pages of the International and Local news told us how our day might go. In these troubled times news headlines had direct impact on our sense of freedom around the city. The distance we were prepared to go from home. Most articles were lucid, intelligent, balanced and current, but as the days and opinion cycled past so our interest in these articles waned. After all, even a cursory look at a map would raise an eyebrow as to the complexity of Pakistan’s neighbours. This is a country where so many [geo-]political points converge that their tides are directly played out in people’s everyday. The pace of daily change piled thoughts on top of one another. When we put this to a learned friend active in Pakistan he laughed and told us that: To understand Pakistan you must first understand that you cannot rationalise the non rational.
Experiences of cities like Karachi are played out globally through inexhaustible layers of mediation. If we had time, we could interrogate every representation; every word and every image. But we do not have time, instead we are all constantly in the process of making ideological decisions to curtail such discussions, in the interests of getting things done. To put it in a nutshell, we all have the feeling that we are being colonised but we don’t exactly know who by. The enemy is not easily identifiable and one can venture to suggest that this feeling now exists globally.—K.M. & B.B.
This work is part of the ongoing project: The Museum of Non Participation.
This film is distributed by no.w.here and was made with the support of Artangel. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org