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Yazan Khalili

Hiding Our Faces Like a Dancing Wind

May 9, 2020
–May 23, 2020

Yazan Khalili, Hiding Our Faces Like a Dancing Wind, 2016. Video 7′30″, silent.

Yazan Khalili’s video has the format of a computer monitor screen with several windows open. In the center is the recognizable image of an iPhone held up in a hand. The device’s camera is in use, so we, the viewers, can see the subject on the other side of the lens: a woman holding her hands in various positions over her face, which is framed by the yellow square associated with the iPhone’s facial recognition software. This software is also shown being used on photographs of masks, which, in the form of JPEG files, are individually opened one by one. In this way, Khalili utilizes recently developed and now ubiquitous camera technology to evoke the colonial history of photographic “evidence” that served to identify or classify individuals through their facial characteristics.

With thanks to Yazan for sharing his work at this time and to our partnership with Mophradat Foundation.

Recommended Age: Grade 7 and up

  • There are many different types of facial recognition software. In this film, we see it in the form of the yellow square on the iPhone camera.
    • What do you think facial recognition software does?
    • How does it work?
  • By hiding parts of her face with her hands, what is the woman trying to do? Does she succeed?
  • If you could ask the artist a question about the piece, what would you like to know?

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Cecilia Vicuña
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A Still from Cauleen Smith "Pilgrim" (2017)
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Preemptive Listening (Part 1: The Fork in the Road)