Jananne Al-Ani

Jananne Al-Ani - Shadow Sites The prominent role of digital technology in the 1991 Desert Storm campaign was a watershed in the history of warfare and changed the way war was to be seen in the future. Within hours of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Western media machine had mobilized its forces and set its sights firmly on the region. Through the portrayal of the population, the culture and, crucially, the landscape of the Middle East, it revealed that the nineteenth-century Orientalist stereotype of the Arab and the desert remained firmly embedded in Western consciousness. The site of the war was shown to be a desert, a place with no history and no population—an empty space, a blank canvas. (Jananne Al-Ani, "Acting Out" in Veil: Veiling, Representation and Contemporary Art, MIT press, 2003)

On Air: Jananne Al-Ani

The ikono On Air Festival is showing two films by Jananne Al-Ani: Shadow Sites I and Shadow Sites II. Both films adopt the vantage point of aerial reconnaissance missions while taking an altogether different viewpoint of the ground surveyed. Seen from above, the landscape appears abstracted, its buildings flattened and its inhabitants invisible to the human eye. The films borrowed their titles from the discipline of aerial archaeology for only when the sun is at its lowest point do hidden features in the landscape such as archaeological sites and settlements come to light. Much like a photographic plate, these “shadow sites” map the latent images held on the surface of the earth. Shot on Super 16mm film and made from a series of vertical aerial views of landscapes bearing traces of natural and man made activity, Shadow Sites I  scans the surface of the earth exposing sites ranging from the ancient to the contemporary such as bronze age copper mines; enigmatic Nabataean ruins; exquisitely preserved Roman forts and the remains of trenches dug by Ottoman garrisons during WW l. In contrast, Shadow Sites II  is built exclusively from high resolution photographs. The film telescopes the viewer from one image into the next, locking onto each site and appearing to burrow into the earth. Landscapes disappear and reappear as one image slowly dissolves into another, like a mineshaft tunnelling deep into the earth and excavating what cannot otherwise be seen on the ground. Shadow Sites I was produced with support from AHRC, Arts Council England and Young Arab Theatre Fund. Shadow Sites II was  produced by Abraaj Capital Art Prize. Mom, am I Barbarian? 13th Istanbul Biennial (2013).


Born in Kirkuk, Iraq in 1966, Jananne Al-Ani studied Fine Art at the Byam Shaw School of Art and graduated with an MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art (1997). Al-Ani has had solo shows at the Beirut Art Center (2013): Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery,Washington DC (2012); Darat al Funun, Amman (2010); and Art Now -Tate Britain, London (2005). Selected group exhibitions include Mom, am I Barbarian? 13th Istanbul Biennial (2013); Re:emerge Towards a New Cultural Cartography Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013); all our relations, the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012); The Future of a Promise, Magazzini del Sale, 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Closer, Beirut Art Center (2009); and Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006). She has co-curated exhibitions including Veil (2003-4) and Fair Play (2001-2). Recipient of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize (2011) and the East International Award (2000), her work can be found in the Tate Collection, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; and the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.


- Homepage of Jananne Al-Ani: www.janannealani.net - Shadow Sites: Recent Work by Jananne Al-Ani - Jananne Al-Ani (monograph). Published by Film and Video Umbrella, London - Footnote to a Project*. Published by Abraaj Capital Art Prize, Dubai (1) - Footnote to a Project*. Published by Abraaj Capital Art Prize, Dubai (2)


The Aesthetics of Disappearance: A Land Without People - Jananne Al-Ani // Sharjah Art Foundation, March Meeting 2010 Image:  Jananne Al-Ani - Shadow Sites II (2011). Courtesy of the Artist and Abraaj Capital Art Prize.