Naeem Mohaiemen, excerpt from United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part I)

Naeem Mohaiemen, excerpt from United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part I)

Naeem Mohaiemen, still from United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part I), 2011, 70 minutes.

Bar Laika presents
Naeem Mohaiemen, excerpt from United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part I)
January 17, 2019, 9pm
Bar Laika by e-flux
224 Greene Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Bar Laika is pleased to present an excerpt from Naeem Mohaiemen’s film United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part I) (2011, 70 minutes; 30-minute excerpt).

The hijacker speaks in halting English; the hostage negotiator, with the clipped confidence of an army officer. A color scheme suggests order in the exchange: green, red, and the occasional white. But underneath the schema of a dark screen—subtitle without image—an unraveling waits. The Japanese Red Army had attached to the Palestinian cause, and through that to an idea of pan-Arabism. But the high-value hostage turned out to be an Armenian banker from California. Instead of being the willing platform for ideas of “Third World revolution,” the actual Third World hit back in unexpected ways, turning the hijackers into helpless witnesses. The lead negotiator, codename Dankesu, said with baffled understatement: “I understand you have some internal problems.”

Sarinah Masukor wrote: “Like Chris Marker’s fictional anthropologist Sandor Krasna in Sans Soleil (1980), the narrator in United Red Army walks the narrow edge between the political world and the private interior. Racing back and forth along the teleology of left-resistance, I’m never certain whether the stories he tells are history or fiction.” (West Space journal)

Naeem Mohaiemen combines films, installations, and essays to research the intersection of Third World Internationalism and World Socialism, in the period of post-war decolonization. Despite underscoring a left tendency toward misrecognition of allies, a hope for a future international left, as an alternative to current silos of race and religion, is always in the work. His projects with e-flux include the photography series “Dear Runa” (Pawnshop, e-flux, 2007), the photo essay “Pulp, a Fiction” (Time Bank, Frieze, 2009), the essay “All That is Certain Vanishes Into Air: Anabasis of the Japanese Red Army” (e-flux journal, 2015), and the essay+minitron installation “Traitors, a Mutable Lexicon” (e-flux journal’s Supercommunity at the 56th Venice Biennale; Corruption: Everybody Knows…, curated by Natasha Ginwala at e-flux, New York, 2015).

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Internationalism, Middle East

Naeem Mohaiemen studied at two schools run by imported leaders—New Tripoli in Libya with a Maltese headmaster, and St. Joseph in Bangladesh with Jesuit priests. Colonel Gaddafi explained Jamahiriya as a “state of the masses.” Perhaps the thirty medical families imported to run Okba Bin Nafa Air Force Hospital were part of those masses as well. The Gurji school was an experiment in socialist cohabitation; Egyptian, Jordanian, Bangladeshi, and Polish students together. The Arabic teacher was quick with his slaps, treating some as children of a lesser tongue. It was some kind of early lesson in realpolitik.

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