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Augustijn (2019)

Omar A. Chowdhury

Central to the work of Omar A. Chowdhury is the question of one’s connection to a place or community. His layered installations – consisting of texts, performances, films, photos, sounds and archives – deal with geographical and temporal autobiographical fractures. Omar A. Chowdhury’s filmic installations permit him to travel through other people’s lives and in doing so (re-)construct a part of his biography. He explores the active role of language, the way in which we pose questions, the nature of human conversation and the significance of prejudices, historicity and tradition. His narrative structures dissolve the boundary between fact and fiction, which makes us question our relationship to the past, no longer knowing who to trust.

For Alias Omar A. Chowdhury takes the character of Stijn back to Aalst. The film Augustijn is the portrait of a charismatic young Belgian from Aalst who has converted to Islam. In short scenes we follow him to different places from his youth; a Madonna statue in the park, the local high school,the streets of Aalst … The artist paints the picture of a Catholic city, where the textile industry is of diminishing influence and where conversion to Islam is a sensitive topic.

As a temporal document, Augustijn reveals a different perspective to the city. A perspective that is constantly checked against the present with each viewing. Where the image of Omar starts and the image of Stijn ends is diffuse and, through various screens and filmic techniques such as repetition and rehearsal, Omar A. Chowdhury evokes an image of the city as malleable as the characters that inhabit it. Augustijn will be screened at Netwerk Aalst, a place where, just like the film, fiction and reality intertwine.

Credits: Augustijn (2019), 3 channel video, 18:21’’, HD ProRes, 4:3, colour, stereo. Courtesy Omar A. Chowdhury.