Rehana Zaman Jupiter in Aries, Moon in Virgo
Jupiter in Aries, Moon in Virgo brings together two video works by London-based artist Rehana Zaman that unfold through the backdrop of candid family settings, offering an alternative lens through which to read tenderness, diasporic subjectivity, and the enduring presence of colonial regimes. Zaman’s kindred works occur in intimate yet contested spaces, expanding to connect dreams, histories, and realities with a radical honesty.
In these two videos, conversations between Zaman and her siblings unfold in familiar spaces: while cooking in the kitchen, and while driving in a car. In both scenarios, family is absorbed in close dialogue as the preparation of food or the passing scenery flickers in and out their peripheral vision, and the casual passage of time opens up unforeseen avenues for discussion. Among the gestures and anecdotes, entwined with intimacy and criticality, conversation with kin moves beyond the familial into complex arrangements of sociality.
In Tell me the story Of all these things (2017), multiple threads accumulate through interweaving conversations between the artist and her sister Farah over the careful concoction of Machli ka Salan (fish curry). Farah muses on her upbringing in Pakistan, her life to date in the UK, and potential futures working in the Gulf. As the dish is prepared, ebullient storytelling gives way to moments of candor. Zaman intersperses these culinary activities with material from the UK government’s counter-terrorism legislation, and scenes of an amorphous, camouflaged CGI figure moving through a seemingly desolate, desert-like environment. These compounded patterns, gestures, and conversations gradually disassemble the layers of Farah’s experiences as she both elides and is constituted through the technologies of the state.
Your Ecstatic Self (2019) is a meditative conversation on belief and desire, posing complex questions around the social function of the sexual. The video unfolds during a car ride with “Sajid” as he drives through nondescript semi-urban spaces, relaying a journey of self-discovery through astrology, Islam, and Tantra. Sajid’s narration speaks to his experience as a Sunni Muslim practicing Sufism, disrupting Western perceptions of South Asian male spirituality and sexuality. Spatial and temporal shifts weave through the storytelling with archival footage of pre-Islamic Indigenous shamanic rituals in the Hunza Valley, Pakistan—a site of both cultural contestation as well as a popular tourist hiking destination—alongside sequences of plant cultivation and conjuring in a green space, performed by Zaman and writer, healer, and botanist Priya Jay. The film transitions between the liminal space of the car and the mountainside, where alternative belief systems and actions offer potential self-transformation.
Together, Tell me the story Of all these things and Your Ecstatic Self draw from intimate family moments to interlace non-linear narratives of personal experience and expansive possibility within socio-political realities.