Zahra Rashid


Untitled, 2015, Drawing, pencil on paper, Courtesy: Oslo National Academy of the Arts

Real Time, Paper Time

Once is never enough. That’s Zahra Rashid’s take on representation. Printing – with its series – would appear to be the logical choice for her medium. Yet Rashid prefers drawing, video and installation, which tend to be unique. Even if a video can be copied, most projections are singular apparitions – as is the case for Rashid’s videos. In short, she does not copy one work but multiplies her representations of objects in different media: a drawing meets a video meets an installation. Her objects are likely to come from the paper trail of scraps – waiting room numbers, receipts, reminders – which accumulate in pockets as the crumpled remains of the day. For Untitled (2014), she drew an image of a blank piece of paper and attached that drawing onto a much larger sheet of paper; nearby she put the actual blank piece of paper on the floor and a video camera above it; finally, she projected this live video onto her drawing-paper-screen. This surface teeters between the airy presence of film and the solid obstacle of papers while confounding the filmed scrap with the drawn scrap, which are superimposed on each other. The work appears as trompe l’oeil, yet Rashid is a honest trickster, happy to leave her deception in full view. With its hardware and wires exposed, the installation looks haphazard but has a delicate bearing, which comes from the superimposition of media and which seems akin to an airborne feather crashing into a tree trunk. Moreover, Rashid often adds another series of drawings, which she installs in different ways: hanging them on the wall or even setting them out on shelves. With her redundant »copies,« Rashid offers not only representation but also its process; she heightens our sense of duration by fusing the real-time of the camera with the accumulated time in the drawing and, perhaps, the time of waiting spent in the original use of such scraps of paper. Here, representation has many temporalities, if not speeds, instead of creating an illusion of coevality with what is represented. A sense of duration seems significant for the next-to-instant global transmission of digital images which move faster than we can comprehend them. Yet Rashid also foils our desire to experience representations as if they were coeval with our present as viewers. What we see instead is our desire to be tricked. Jennifer Allen