Displaced: Raida Adon’s StrangenessON VIEW: September 22 – December 10, 2023
OPENING RECEPTION: September 21, 5-7 p.m.
Raida Adon, Strangeness, 2018, Video.
Raida Adon’s immersive video Strangeness (2018) invokes experiences of displacement and enduring journeys in search of Home. A rich array of archetypal, historical, and biographical threads inter-weaves riveting, audiovisual fabrics reflecting both human fragility and resilience, agony and hope.
Adon's imagery deliberately references twentieth and twenty-first century documentary photographs of Jewish, Palestinian, Syrian, and European refugees. Prominent scenes from the video draw inspiration from diverse cultural sources, including Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Catholic rituals and imagery, and Shakespeare’s drowning Ophelia.
The carefully chosen soundtrack amplifies the themes captured by the visual images. A Romanian lullaby slowly crescendos, an opening gateway to Strangeness that expresses the deep sorrow of an uprooted and unsettling nomadic existence. Another aural component integrated into the film is a song by the Egyptian singer Laila Murad. Born in 1918 to a well-known Jewish family, the singer converted to Islam in 1947. Murad’s religious transitions seem to have resonated with Adon, who was born in 1972 in the bi-national city of Acre, Israel, to a Palestinian family that includes Jewish, Muslim, and Christian kin.
Rather than using professional actors in her video work, Adon casts and directs members of her own family as well as friends and neighbors. A prominent film, theater, and television actress starring in the Netflix original series The Girl from Oslo (2022), Adon herself also appears as the main protagonist of Strangeness.
In contrast with her acting projects, Adon’s video productions do not employ scripts, texts, and dialogues, nor do they narrate linear plots. Rather, the artist entices her audience to enter an alternative universe of sights and sounds; arid and lush landscapes; lit and shadowy skies. Re-configuring the elements, she creates a visionary new terrain of earth, wind, water, and fire. Strangeness unveils harsh truths about our broken world through the prism of Raida Adon’s unique, unbridled imagination.
— Gannit Ankori, PhD, Henry and Lois Foster director and chief curator, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University