ReenActing Rima
Indonesia 2005
9mins 13secs

ReenActing Rima interweaves two stories by Rima, a young Balinese [and Indonesian] woman. Rima, the protoganist – ‘narrator’ and ‘actor’- of the video, narrates two personal experiences from her recent past, both related to her veil.

Rima is an English language teacher and Rima is an actor who dreams of performing in a large production:

that is my dream… to perform in front of an audience… with my own dialogue…

Finding herself both confronted and confounded by the different readings and understanding of her clothing by Muslim and non-Muslim alike, she may well ask whose veil it is anyway. Two very different subjects are implicated in the struggle to claim ‘ownership’ of Rima’s appearance.

'ReenActing Rima' is concerned with crossing a number of boundaries: the political with the personal in which we see Rima asserting her right to be the agent of her identity; and the boundaries of fact [truth] and fiction, social drama and theatrical performance, where Rima acts, re-enacting, performing from her own scripted experiences. Continuity is disrupted subtly via the different coloured jilbabs.1 The told and ‘performed’ stories seem continuous, however the overlapping fragments of each story also disrupt the narrative. As a viewer we want to identify the story as a continuously and ‘truthfully’ rendered seamless experience. Conventions of documentary and narrative are deliberately subverted through repeated overlaying fragments of both stories - when is Rima the actor and when is she interviewee?

Deliberately playing with notions of story-telling and fact-giving, and what happens when a story is re-told and re-told, one we may ask if small ‘factual’ errors render events more or less ‘real’, more or less ‘true’? Rima disrupts her own position finally, apparently contradicting her earlier convictions. This may undermine any ideological position, but it simultaneously reinstates Rima as a thinking and acting individual.

ReenActing Rima (excerpt), video, Bali 2005, full duration 9min 13 sec

Intending to move definitively away from the current politicising of Islam, including Islamic dress for women, 'ReenActing Rima' instead focuses on notions of personhood. Rima uses the cloth of the jilbab to perform a woven and visual text that tells of the complexities of what it is to be a young, fashion-conscious, educated, contemporary woman who happens to be, as well as a Muslim, a teacher and actor with dreams of her own.

This work was originally screened in Conversations - Cross Cultural Video Project at 24HR Art Contemporary Art Space in Darwin, 2005. The work was also submitted and accepted for the Tudong Short Fillm competition planned to be held in Malaysia in 2006. The festival never went ahead due to concerns about the ‘sensitive’ nature of the content.

1 Jilbab is the head-dress or scarf worn by Muslim women in Indonesia.  In Malaysia it is called tudong.