Runa Islam’s Emergence (2011): Reproducing and Projecting Antoin Sevruguin’s Negative in a Time of Uprisings

Juan Carlos Guerrero-Hernández


In 2011 Runa Islam first exhibited a subtle and beautiful film that appropriated an enigmatic colonial glass plate negative, operated with it for both fracturing and multiplying its indexicality, and displaced the negative from – and even against – the history it would be expected to depict. By means of a formal and conceptual analysis of Sevruguin’s photographic work, one of the most important and idiosyncratic in the Middle East at the beginning of the 20th century, and analysis of both the enigmatic the negative Islam selected, and the film installation, the paper shows that Emergence must be regarded as a fine, conceptualist film that resists narrative, invites introspection, and stimulates a decolonial posture for opening a possible way of escape from the orientalist codifying gaze that persist in how Western Media records and communicates the ‘East’, and for confronting the cultural imaginary and colonialist gaze of a current process of crisis in 2011.


Decolonialization; Colonial archives; Photography; Film; Orientalism

DOI: 10.6092/issn.2280-9481/10521


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