Aseel AlYaqoub + Adel Ashkanani

Kissin’ Cousins

2013

Video Installation

Kissin’ Cousins is an invented representation of a Kuwaiti household in the 1960’s. It questions the authenticity of our post-oil cultural identity from our modern perspective. This imagined nostalgia is not based on historical and archeological actuality, but on the re-telling of the past by means of constructing different memories, narratives and fantasies.

 The video is filmed in a room that has been recreated to look like it is situated in a traditional Kuwaiti mud house. Its purpose is to transport you back in time, a reinvented space that aims to mimic the architecture of our past. This artificial space acts as the environment for the simulated narrative of this Kuwaiti household. The story is superficial and uses tradition as a basis for cultural recollection. It also uses the traditional elements as a way of identifying with the past since they are still prominent today. This nostalgic view is problematic as it is reflecting what already subsists rather than different histories of ourselves that no longer exists.

 In the film, the past is portrayed in black and white; it is grainy and crackling with white noise. Through the technologies of the radio and the phonograph, two different internationally acclaimed singers are contrasted pop-culturally.  They are then placed in juxtaposition with the sound of the call for prayer, questioning its impact on social culture. The film transforms into the colored present, the call for prayer continues and the traditional clothes are still worn within a space that essentially exists in a modern Kuwaiti home.

 The film shows a common, trivial misconception of our past culture in a time of modernity. In order to position ourselves within the narratives of the past one must understand who we are and what we have become. Once that layer has been peel, we can begin the excavation process.