Single-screen video installation, duration 30 minutes
All Rights Reserved. [credits]
The Paradox of Being Taken Seriously depicts therapy sessions of a group of mostly African young people, at a mental health care institution in the Netherlands.
In ten short scenes, different sessions are shown, in which the therapists offer activities to the group.
The camera focusses on therapists and asylum seekers alike, mostly in close-up, or in extreme close-up. The images become impressionistic when the camera takes time to establish focus, or frames a detail, like light reflecting in someones hair, the fabric of a dress or other instances of materiality.
Sometimes the sound is muted, so that the otherwise raw audio, of voices full of emotion–which varies from tension, to anger, to defeat–makes place for a quiet, that allows for more empathy with the people observed, as if it represents their inner silence.
Initially, my intention was to make a film not about, but with the refugees. I wrote a science-fiction scenario I wanted to invite them to work on with me and started filming the therapy sessions only
by way of preparation.
Gradually, however, I became fascinated by the way the camera filtered the situation as a kind of landscape of impressions. I decided to use this material for my film, in order to relate the way both groups present (therapists and refugees alike) seem incapable to have a balanced interaction, outside their perceived roles as 'caregivers' and 'patients'.
Apart from the cuts, I left the material raw. The interplay of forms, voices, light and detail form a good representation of reality here. I felt that the impressionist approach could underscore the idea, that there is an intangible otherness at play, lodged in the different cultural and psychological realities of the refugees, which is then confronted with a strong normalising pressure, mediated by language, assignments and care, from the therapists.