Bashir Makhoul

Bashir Makhoul, The Darkened Room (video still), 1998

Bashir Makhoul, The Darkened Room (video still), 1998

Bashir Makhoul (b. 1963, Palestine) is an English artist originally from Palestine. His video and sound installation, The Darkened Room (1998), is based on the relationship he developed with his grandmother shortly before her death. Because Makhoul had grown up in England while she remained in Lebanon, he only came to know her as an adult. After their first meeting she sent him recorded letters. The soundtrack was taken from these intimate conversations.

The small room in which the piece was housed had a false floor, underneath which the artist installed a sound system. This gave the sound a physical quality, in that it could be felt through the feet as well as heard. Enveloped in the conversation, the visitor’s bodily responses were magnified.

These aural and tactile effects were complemented by two video images of a single eye, gazing at each other across the room. They documented the artist's physical response to his grandmother’s recorded voice. Although he tries not to cry, we watched as his eyelids flutter and pools of moisture form around the rim of the eye, then dispersed. Photographs of Makhoul’s grandmother – in her youth and as an old woman – were installed opposite the doorway. These two images, of distant moments in one life, made us aware of all the other moments that have passed unrecorded. A black ribbon signifies her death and Makhoul’s bereavement.

Bashir Makhoul at Liverpool Biennial 1991

The Darkened Room, 1998
Video and sound installation with photographs
Courtesy of artist