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CINEMATIC AFFECTS: THE ART OF RUNA ISLAM

MARTIN HERBERT surveys the artist’s films in which coolly hypnotic, oblique narratives—haunted by the afterimages of ’60s avant-garde auteurs—straddle the borders between cinema and sculpture, art house and art gallery.

I CAN’T HELP IT: I know the female character in Runa Islam’s five-minute 16 mm film Dead Time, 2000, is merely a cipher, a manipulated integer in a calculus of cinematic affectivity—but my heart goes out to her anyway. There she is in the first shot, framed against a blank sky, nearly expressionless yet radiating a sense of the kind of authentic interior life it often takes a nonactor to convey. Still, Islam seems to be trying to tell me not to care too much. In short order, the artist underscores the medium’s materiality with a couple of Godardian edits, slicing unknowable segments of time away from the film so the woman’s movements are repeatedly stopped in midstream, and

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