Larissa Sansour and Søren Lind Familiar Phantoms
2nd March 2023 – 21st May 2023
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The premiere of a major new film by artists and long-time collaborators Larissa Sansour and Søren Lind, jointly commissioned by the Whitworth and Film and Video Umbrella with support from the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Familiar Phantoms draws on Sansour’s family history in Palestine and Russia, providing an intimate insight into how personal identity is shaped by geo-political events and the experiences of our ancestors imprint themselves on our lives.
An abandoned mansion serves as the seat of memory, providing the backdrop to reenacted family recollections. These scenes are entwined with super 8 footage and material from the artist’s personal archive, transporting viewers across time, re-telling and re-calling the lives of Sansour’s ancestors through the stories she has inherited.
The film begins in Palestine in 1916, when, along with tens of thousands of other young Palestinian men, Sansour’s great-grandfather fled to South America to avoid being captured and conscripted by Ottoman troops to fight in the First World War. This was the first Palestinian exodus. The Ottomans were replaced by the British, and the film meanders through the 20th Century, chronicling the family Sansour’s great-grandmother raised in her husband’s absence.
Familiar Phantoms takes us to Moscow where Sansour’s father lived during a period of exile due to his affiliation with the Communist Party. Returning to Bethlehem, we are guided through Sansour’s childhood memories with evocative imagery; a young Sansour burning political pamphlets to avoid trouble with authorities, the local milkman, the French nuns running the catholic school, neighbours, pilgrims, fairy tales and legends.
Central to the film is the haziness of memory, the collective nostalgia generated by family histories and myths and the symbiotic relationship between past, present and future – all set against the politically and symbolically charged backdrop of Palestine.
This commission was made possible by the Moving Image Fund for Museums, an Art Fund project conceived in partnership with and supported by Thomas Dane Gallery with the generous support of several private donors. With additional support from Arts Council England, Danish Arts Foundation and Knud Højgaards Fond.