“In videopoetry, the verbal aspect (whether it is a performed poem, a voice-over or on-screen text) is always incomplete; it is up to the image or images to complete the text by providing an unexpected but entirely appropriate context. When the verbal element in a video-poem is an unusually high quality like it is here, the selection of an unexpected but entirely appropriate context becomes an even greater dilemma for the artist.
For seven sublime minutes a vision of an endless sea surrenders its meaning: it has witnessed a heartbreaking story of the needless death and abandonment of a people. A story that will be re-enacted in at least two generations, a story that could only be told – this image of the deep stands behind the words of the poem.
And it does, like a visual representation of the unconscious, it is a big unknowable that flows without a break, wave after wave, thought after thought, bearing the words of the poem, words like “a boat carrying refugees died of a heart attack” and “when the first rescue ship arrived, the Mediterranean sea had drowned, they found the water gasping for breath, the waves soaked through” or “on the 8 o’clock news that evening, as the waters of the Mediterranean sea flowed gently form the television on to the parquet floors of sitting rooms”.
It doesn’t end there, other words now, another time, another place. Painful words, words of evidence, all on the back of the hypnotic roll of the sea, the sea is present, it is a bold, daring gesture.
We award the 2020 Zebra award for the Best Poetry Film to “Évian” by Ghayath Almadhoun, congratulations!
To find out more about Ghayath Almadhoun, his work in the Arabic original and translation into many languages, go to his website https://www.ghayathalmadhoun.com/