Nishmi at Haus Wien / Vienna

Dynamics of Narrative Appropriation

August 30 – September 5, 2021

Haus Wien
Oststation am Kempelenpark
Quellenstraße 2A, 1100 Wien

written, directed, and edited by Nishmi 

original soundtrack & sound design by anaritzz 

motion design by Nil Venâncio 

translation by Sabahat Javed & Syed Kazmi

All images courtesy of Nishmi. Photos by Flavio Palasciano.

DNA is a 16’ single-channel video essay. Through different  layers of found footage, authorial text, music, and narration, a contemplation about power is created. The video shows a protest scene, shot by the artist in Delhi, March 2016, depicting the Indian feminist group Pinjra Tod (“Break the cages” in Hindi) which Nishmi worked with for two months. They appear protesting against the very restrictive curfew hours that apply to women at university accommodation  throughout the country.

Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita – two of the protesters in the video – were arrested in 2020 when they joined a march against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Along with other activists, they were accused of attempted murder, criminal association, and obstruction of public service despite a lack of evidence. Framed by the state, these actions were justified by an accusation of conspiracy against the government. After a year in prison in the Tihar complex and relentless support from progressive groups in the country, the two activists were granted bail. On a reflective level, considering divergences and convergences in distinct places around the world, the film proposes an open dialogue. The Brazilian artist is interested in the worldwide repetition of some patterns that she is familiar with, especially as it occurs in the institutionalized narrative appropriation in her home country; colonial legacy is distorted and the violent past of the military dictatorship is denied and erased by members of the government. It’s an active and ongoing process, there and elsewhere.

In Brazil, the national flag is currently appropriated as a symbol of conservative, ultra-religious groups, while the massacres of the state against its people are often omitted. Within the same context, to maintain the power of conservative structures, the government distorts facts, and fictional ideas are created. Just like DNA replicates, power dynamics repeat themselves. New perspectives and possibilities can be created through mutations.

Nishmi (Brazil, 1994) is an artist based in between São Paulo and Berlin. Her research unfolds from poetic experimentations of video essays and the usage of found footage, often connecting word interventions, authorial text, personal archives, and performance. Moved by bending structures and disclosing affections, Nishmi creates narratives that explore the relations between communication, body, gender, and science. Her works have been included in Ecrã Festival (Modern Art Museum – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Pembe Hayat KuirFest (Pera Museum, Turkey), andExcéntrico (Chile).