Medusa (2020) is a video installation by Yazan Khalili.

Medusa builds on Yazan Khalili's, who is based in Ramallah, long-standing engagement with digital archiving in times of political unrest.

Khalili asks whether digital archives can be a medium that frees memory from overdetermined, institutionalized narratives. Specifically, Medusa engages with the rise of facial recognition technologies. While the human face is an everyday mode of personal identification, the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented historical transition in how we perceive one another—recently we are communicating almost entirely via video and various social platforms. Despite the fact that Khalili’s work was produced prior to the pandemic, the current requirement to mask up in public space has introduced a new, universal, layer of facial concealment from which to engage with the ideas of Medusa and the mythology it references.

As the mythological figure of Greek antiquity, Medusa signifies both a mesmerizing angel of death and a casualty of petty politics among the gods. She appears as the epic executioner who never chose to be eternally chained to her rage. Moreover, despite being the archetype of the deadly gaze that petrifies, reifies and dehumanizes, Medusa can be overcome if one mirrors her powers back onto her. Technology itself is not an untouchable abstraction. As a human invention, it hosts our respective weaknesses. It relies on images, histories, codes, decisions, regulations and glitches that, however complex, are mired in bias and insufficient data.

(text from https://moca.ca/exhibitions/yazan-khalili-2020/)

(Photo, installation view at V2_ Fenna de Jong)


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