Eva & Franco Mattes’ contribution for C41 Magazine is a selection of images and press clips from their latest work Up Next, a silent video dealing with the fate of the Iranian teenager who has become famous on Instagram as Sahar Tabar.
Up Next unwinds at an inconceivable pace, like a Roger Corman film shot by Jean-Marie Straub. It pulls you into that cadence and you settle into it, though never at ease, until you find yourself in a Procrustean bed of questions and puzzles. A sentient bed, caring in its own peculiar way, like the monstrous beds in which the characters sleep in Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future, constantly shaken. At the heart of this story lie different powers fighting each other, sometimes simply crossing paths, or even entering into ephemeral alliances:
1. The algorithmic power of social media and its unrelenting pressure to transform persons into characters and impose anorexigenic models of femininity, of which the images created by Sahar Tabar are an undeclared parody. Like all parodies in the current post-postmodern cultural climate, it has no real critical direction, it does not know what targets to hit, a mere jumble of bullets fired haphazardly. This story has become emblematic not because of the power of the images but because of the context, the fact that it took place in Iran, and the repression that it triggered.
2. The powers of an oppressive and patriarchal state that intervenes in the algorithmic power when it becomes dysfunctional, when a woman becomes protagonist for the “wrong” reasons, removing the female body from the control of the authorities. Removing it—this must be clear—without liberating it.
3. The power of the global media that turned the contradiction between state power and algorithmic power—a contradiction played out on a woman’s body, or rather, on the assumed image of that body—into news, devoting themselves to the meanest exploitation and writing everything and the opposite of everything.
Up Next shows us Sahar as the repeated victim of this web of micro and macro power. And it is important to watch from beginning to end, not once looking away, not even during the black inserts. These are the moments when thought can be exercised, until, in the end, one rises from that bed of Procrustes, aware once again that all those powers must be fought.
Full video can be seen on here.