ON THE ROAD (be fekret hastam); Naz Shahrokh; digi, TRT: 6:40
The work is a conversation with Jack Kerouac and his novel On the Road; with the energy of the Beat Generation and the philosophy inherent with that period of Zen Buddhism, of living in the now, while walking through the journey of life. Its narrative describes a theory in metaphysics of twin souls.
How did this film come about? and what is it about?
This work evolved from another project—a land art project specific to this location and a series of photographs which are directly linked to Kerouac and his novel On the Road (more specifically in conjunction to the scroll in which Kerouac typed the novel).
The day of the installation, I knew that I wanted to photograph an individual walking through the field dressed in white, thus this aspect was pre-determined. While in the the environment, I was struck by its sheer beauty and the flow of the movement of the figure in the landscape. Thus I began filming as well as documenting through photography.
The male character was by sheer coincidence—this gentleman was walking past us, and he struck me as a potential character in this series of photographs, I asked to document him in the environment as well. Afterwards, I reviewed the footage, and its vision and narrative evolved.
There were many revisions of this work, but luckily I have a very patient and talented editor Ayesh Ganem who worked with me from start to finish.
Please tell us how do you see the Beats and Jack Kerouac and his novel “On the Road” whose narrative describes self-discovery.
I came to know the Beats during my college years. I took a course in Existentialism and at that time was introduced to the work of Ginsberg and Kerouac. I believe this generation of aesthetic souls to be instrumental—the Beats for me carry a sense of freedom, and they followed their “truth”, albeit theirs was built on decadence but also of self-discovery. The latter is what I am focused on.
The scroll for “On the Road” by Kerouac is present symbolically throughout several bodies of work that I produced in 2013—I tend to appropriate sometimes without even knowing—but in this body of work, I purposefully transpose a form reminiscent of his scroll, which to me represents a longing for being able to exist within my studio practice void of interruptions. I think when one is focused in this way; the tapping into oneself is easier.
Why did you choose to film these shots on this particular road?
This location is quite special to me. It is where my daughter Alexandria took riding lessons. It’s one of the few locations in Abu Dhabi where you can find these stunning orchards, void of people, and where you can find a visual repose from daily life and noise.
What is the twin souls about?
Twin souls is a theory in metaphysics of the perfect union—a yin/yang sort of joining. It’s the ideal mate, one’s other half, and it is believed that it can only be found when one finds themselves first.
I have been researching various theories in metaphysics as long as I can remember, and this theory has stayed close to me for years. It’s not necessarily a romantic love story only, but more so of a deep spiritual union between two souls.
Adam and Eve were believed to be twin souls, but in my narrative, it’s not one of a Prelapsarian universe but rather of a happy ending (or beginning rather).