Du Religieux à la Séduction is a video produced in Beirut in 2008 around the time when the Shiite community of South Lebanon collectively performs an annual religious ritual.
In the city of Nabatiye, south of Lebanon, a multitude sharing the Shiite faith gather in the annual ritual commemorating Prophet Mohamed’s family’s massacre, a ritual traced to over 1000 years ago in the nearby Iraq’s Karbala.
Du Religieux à la Séduction is an attempt to penetrate the event, sneaking into the space of the individual in the midst of the multitude. In this space, the weight of history, belief and ideology is marked on the body. In the practice of commemoration and religiosity, the body becomes a site of performance, where the weight of history and belief is subtly transformed into acts of seduction, a movement and a dynamic that Achoura follows attentively.
In the early morning of Achoura, before the masses convene and the image of blood associated with the ritual unfolds, the camera follows a young man as he walks through the streets of Nabatiyeh in the midst of the ritual. The presence of a woman with a camera affects his behavior, formulating a seeming need for him to seduce, through some kind of performance.
The work intersperses its observational moves as a stimulating spectator with some formal documentary fragments. A woman in her 40s is interviewed on the Achoura she lived since her childhood and her account is complemented with images illustrated and inspired from her imagination. She narrates a certain subjectivity of this marking event, often lost in dominant representational work about Achoura as a collective religious event.
Du Religieux à la Séduction, in its whole, becomes a reconstruction of a major event, of which a prevalent account heavily relies on the collective and the religious. Zooming into the singular matter of this collective, the individual, the personal, and how this singular mutates the religious, at times turning into a seductive act, Du Religieux à la Séduction proposes an alternative gaze, an alternative participation.