Bassam Al-Sabah: I AM ERROR

De La Warr Pavilion, Marina, Bexhill On Sea, East Sussex, TN40 1DP
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Bassam Al-Sabah, I AM ERROR, 2021. Video HD, 28 min. Film still. Commissioned by Gasworks, in partnership with De La Warr Pavilion, with the generous

About

Belfast-based artist Bassam Al-Sabah makes installations comprising video, painting and sculpture that embrace the shape-shifting potential of computer-animated worlds, creating fantasy dreamscapes in which personal mythology, historical trauma and queer possibility intersect.

In previous works, Al-Sabah, whose family was exiled from Baghdad after the Iraq War, reflected on geographical dislocation through reference to Japanese anime cartoons broadcast throughout the Middle East during his childhood. By embedding imagery of warfare within these visual frameworks, anime cartoons and video culture take on a heightened political significance within Al-Sabah's practice.

I AM ERROR explores the construction of masculinity in action-adventure video games. Presented in an immersive cinematic environment, Al-Sabah's new CGI films confront the armouring of the male body in gaming culture by queering its military ethos from within.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a 30-minute-long animation projected on to a large curved screen. It features a collection of cinematic sequences from an imaginary video game in which the hero's body is constantly in flux, undergoing metamorphoses as a result of his encounter with other lifeforms, whose physical touch makes him vulnerable to change, threatening his identity and selfhood.

Combining the genres of fantasy erotica and body horror, Al-Sabah's film celebrates the hero's physical growth and transformation, as his body sprouts and blends into its surroundings, among writhing flowers and tentacular creatures. The tactile, hyper-realistic quality of the footage contrasts with the immersive architecture of the film installation, which engulfs the viewer and confronts them with the constantly mutating bodies of Al-Sabah's films. The show is punctuated by digitally sculpted objects that explore the materiality of organic decay, extending the eerie atmosphere of Al-Sabah's animations into the gallery space.

Commissioned and produced by Gasworks, London, in partnership with the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea. Bassam Al-Sabah is the fifth artist to take part in the Freelands Gasworks Partnership, a programme for emerging artists based outside of London. Made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Freelands Foundation, the programme combines a three-month residency at Gasworks with solo exhibitions at Gasworks and the De La Warr Pavilion.

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De La Warr Pavilion exterior shot by the sunny coast in Bexhill East SussexDe La Warr Pavilion, RotherSpectacular modernist Grade 1 listed Pavilion on the promenade in Bexhill, hosting theatre, concerts, comedy, films and contemporary art exhibitions. Beautiful café-bar with views over the sea.

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