We Knew How Beautiful They Were, These Islands
Tunisia, France, 2022, 20'
A lonely figure is digging a grave in the deep of night, in a dimension on the edge of reality, between dream and real. Without dialogues or sounds, save for the wind, the fire crackling, and a shovel scraping against the dry dirt, we are introduced in a dark and mysterious, possibly cursed universe, where each object seems haunted by a barely perceptible meaning, bearer of ancestral instances. The head of an old doll, a comb, a lipstick: relics whose silent language speaks of life and, above all, of the disappearance of their original owners. It’s almost like an invocation of their souls, between sea and desert.
Younes Ben Slimane’s images, with their troubling, melancholy beauty, are immersed in darkness, and yet stand out with a gold opalescence, as the only light they get is from the stars and the lonely gravediggers’ lamps. Bodies, like ghostly but concrete presences, stand out against a scenario reminiscent of catacombs in which a strange and painful ritual takes place: a holy act conveying the persistence of memory and the fragile spiritual materiality of existence.