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Under the common themes of loss, belonging, heritage and national identity, the three films A Space Exodus (2008), Nation Estate (2012) and In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain (2015) each explore different aspects of the political turmoil the Middle East.

While A Space Exodus envisions the final uprootedness of the Palestinian experience and takes the current political predicament to its extra-terrestrial extreme by landing the first Palestinian on the moon, Nation Estate reveals a sinister account of an entire population restricted to a single skyscraper, with each Palestinian city confined to a single floor. In the trilogy’s final installment, In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain, a narrative resistance leader engages in archaeological warfare in a desperate attempt to secure the future of her people. Using the language of sci-fi and glossy production, Sansour’s trilogy presents a dystopian vision of a Middle East on the brink of the apocalypse.

A Space Exodus quirkily sets up an adapted stretch of Stanley Kubrick's Space Odyssey in a Middle Eastern political context. The recognisable music scores of the 1968 science fiction film are changed to arabesque chords matching the surreal visuals of Sansour's film.

The film follows the artist herself onto a phantasmagoric journey through the universe echoing Stanley Kubrick's thematic concerns for human evolution, progress and technology. However, in her film, Sansour posits the idea of a first Palestinian into space, and, referencing Armstrong's moon landing, she interprets this theoretical gesture as "a small step for a Palestinian, a giant leap for mankind".'

About the filmmaker: Born in Jerusalem, Sansour studied Fine Art in Copenhagen, London and New York. Her work is interdisciplinary, immersed in the current political dialogue and utilises video art, photography, experimental documentary, the book form and the internet.

Despite its stylised imagery, sterile futurism and high production value, sci-fi tends to allow for a specific kind of almost nostalgia framing of the topic at hand, even the situation in the Middle East. Sci-fi almost invariably carries within it a sense of retro, ideas of the future tend to appear standard and cliché at the same time as they come across as visionary.

Sansour borrows heavily from the language of film and pop culture. By approximating the nature, reality and complexity of life in Palestine and the Middle East to visual forms normally associated with entertainment and televised pastime, her grandiose and often humorous schemes clash with the gravity expected from works commenting on the region. References and details ranging from sci-fi and spaghetti westerns to horror films converge with Middle East politics and social issues to create intricate parallel universes in which a new value system can be decoded.

Sansour's work features in galleries, museums, film festivals and art publications worldwide. Recent solo shows include exhibitions at Kulturhuset in Stockholm, Galerie La B.A.N.K in Paris, DEPO in Istanbul and Jack the Pelican in New York.

She has participated in the biennials in Istanbul, Busan and Liverpool. Her work has appeared at the Third Guangzhou Triennial in China, LOOP in Seoul, South Korea, Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris and PhotoCairo4 in Egypt.

Sansour's graphic novel The Novel of Nonel and Vovel - a collaboration with Oreet Ashery - first appeared in Venice Biennale bookshops and was since launched at the Tate Modern, UK, the Brooklyn Museum, USA, and Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Centre, Denmark. Her short film A Space Exodus was nominated in the Best Short category at the Dubai International Film Festival.

Exhibitions in 2012 include the Centre for Photography in Copenhagen, Galerie Anne de Villepoix in Paris and Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney.

She lives and works in London.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    5 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    Palestine, State of, Denmark
  • Director
    Larissa Sansour
  • Screenwriter
    Larissa Sansour
  • Producer
    Søren Lind
  • Cast
    Larissa Sansour
  • Cinematographer
    Niels A. Hansen
  • Editor
    Lars Lyndstadaas
  • Sound Design
    Lars Halvorsen