Runa Islam is a London-based artist inspired by the language of cinema, in particular the work of European filmmakers such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Ingmar Bergman.
Her 16mm film, First Day of Spring (2005), is characterised by a sense of stillness. Shot in Dhaka, Bangladesh on the official first day of spring, the 7-minute film loop shows a group of rickshaw drivers at rest against the backdrop of the noise and bustle of the cityscape. Islam paid each driver a day’s wages to do nothing, in a comment on the city’s working conditions and labour structures.
In contrast, How Far to Fårö (2004) was filmed en route to the remote Swedish island of Fårö; home to Bergman and the setting for some of his most famous films. The piece intersperses footage of the journey to Fårö on the windswept decks of the passenger ferry M / S Gotland, with scenes filmed in the Swedish pine forest. Islam describes her experience onboard: ‘The ship seemed like a stage to me; an abstracted moving platform upon which small dramas and exchanges took place – between the elements, the people and the vessel itself.’ Presented as a triptych on three screens, the installation has a physical presence which emphasises a strong sense of constant motion.
Nature is present as a changing force in both films, which employ classic cinematic techniques, such as the tracking shot, close-ups and long shots in order to deconstruct the filmmaking process.