Distorted Reality
Project info

Distorted Reality is the amalgamation of images that makes up the visual material we are confronted with in our day to day life, the artificially simulated "virtual reality" that we occupy in all of its forms. These images, ones that we project of ourselves and that we create of and for the world that surrounds us, are in juxtaposition with the reality of our actual life. Since the first wall drawings made by cavemen, we began our journey of visual representation, our expedition in search of meaningful imagery, establishing, in our time, a very complex relationship with the image that now affects our life both consciously and subconsciously, even filtering into our dreams.

Today, the image has become potent as our visual field is haunted incessantly by "image producers" of all sorts, producers who strive and compete to steal our attention and seduce us via the images of a "distorted reality" that they have especially tailored for us, their unknowing targets.

There are two kinds of "image producers." The first type is, what I call, the "made-up image producer," who distorts reality by producing images which hide part or all of the truth to make reality look more appealing, taking advantage of the fact that we are all in pursuit of the "better" and that we all avoid the "worse," both of which, granted, are highly relative terms. This basic instinct that we possess has been abused in commercial advertisements, public communications, political discourse, and mass media. The dangerous facet of this type of imagery is that, most of the time, it disguises the "worse" as the "better;" it superficially and deceivingly polishes an ugly reality in order to sell it, in order to secure and/or buy for it a space within our field of vision. These "image producers" have waged a ruthless war that they will win if we do not understand and expose their motives, thereby creating an automatic self-defense system in resistance, a system that lies within the self, based on the idea of 'I know that you know that I know you are faking.' Only in this way can we change the rules of the game and tip it in our favor, at least in the long run, ultimately obliging such “image producers” to respect our intelligence.

The second kind of “image producer” is the "non made-up image producer," who distorts reality in a way to produce an image that unveils the hidden truth, that shows the naked reality, as it is, and that vehemently opposes and fights against existing dolled-up images. This form of imagery focuses on revealing the "worse" rather than the "better." It is the type of image created and expressed in art. The weakness of this image lies, however, in its unpopularity, for it is consumed by a limited public, especially in comparison to the public of the first type of image… How many know Dante & his Divine Comedy? But does not every one know McDonalds and Mickey Mouse? It is a fierce war that is being battled, but is not the perseverance of “non made-up image producers” in their continuous struggle to divulge the truth and their endurance thus far in and of itself a form of wining?

The images that I have produced are "non made-up images," created using the same techniques - performance, digital photography, computer graphics, and video - as those employed by "made-up image producers" but used in a way to contradict the "made-up image.”

This work is my self-defense system against the invasion of my field of vision by the “made-up image.” It represents my personal critical vision of us and of the world around us. Through it, I am doing as most artists do, each in their individual way.

Faisal Samra
Feb. 2007

Excerpts Faisal Samra Monograph
Writers: Roxana Azimi, Gilles de Bure

The veil is both a protection and screen, an obstacle to vision. It is indeed an interplay of opposites that the Distorted Reality series sets into motion.

The photos oscillate between masquerades and bandaging, pain and camouflage, opacity and transparency. The veils make and unmake themselves without beginning or end, an infinite modulation between harmony and dissonance. One crumples and mistreats the fabric of a life, of destiny.

The artist’s identity cracks, fades, hybridizes. He seems squeezed into gnarled postures, a hair shirt or a camisole. Swaddled, contorted, the subject is trapped within his gestures to the point of asphyxia. The folds suffocate him and blur the image. We are close to the “schizophrenic stuffing”, the “law of extremum of matter” invoked by Deleuze. The being reflects on our own silence when its hands dance and wave in a war against being, against itself, against the imprisoned thing.

With his triptychs, Faisal Samra absolutely does not treat us with kid gloves, rather he shreds them, gets rid of them, like a second skin to be thrown off. Our eye suffers as it adjusts to this membrane.

The plastic is sundered like a balloon, like the skins that are stretched before being swallowed by the Mongols at the Naadam festival. The hand becomes a beast, a mime that gives birth, clothed, unclothed, shredded, like the hand of a great prestidigitator. It is the battlefield of a torturer that confronts our gaze.
As in Italian theatre, each wears a mask and bears his own truth or truths. The mask nods, wages war, prays.

Samra adds animals to the image, such as an incongruous green parakeet, a package of meat carried on the shoulder, a puzzle of the world that deconstructs the image even further.
Elsewhere the silhouette has become that of a woman dressed in black, a body that bends to seek concealment while carrying another body. What does one see through the transparent shroud? An animal? A chimera with its entrails? An expiatory victim about to be offered in sacrifice? The woman holds it as a Western Pietà, she bends it, she makes it suffer and rocks it gently at the same time.

In another triptych, number 34, one might see a warrior in action, surrounded by a white aura, wearing a mask of blood. He holds a cloth that he waves like a magician or a huckster and transforms into a weapon. The movement is similar to that in Performance 16.

Performance 47 shows another combatant, blurred by the light and movement, obscured by an outpouring of flashes. The colours of white sand and gold embellished accentuated by blue and red give a nobility to the images and call to mind the painters of lyrical abstraction.

Performance 10 appears to show the pharaoh’s wisdom or chicanery, the stripes evoking the rhythms of pyramids in the desert.