Horizon of Exile develops at different levels. On the one hand, we have the voices and brief appearances of older women talking about the their loss of a homeland, experience of exile and search for identity. On the other, these experiences and feelings are expressed in the performance of two female dancers, who translate the women’s stories into movements of the body. The dancers’ clothing, the setting and the call of a muezzin at the beginning of the video place the action in the Middle East but without linking it to any precise country. The landscape, the garments and the women themselves recall the cultural context of Iraq, Iran and Kurdistan, but also Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Armenia. Isabel Rocamora thus creates a broader metaphorical space, which is always anchored to reality by the women’s voices while retaining at the same time the general validity of a story about the destiny of women in exile. The languages of words and the body complement one another to create a new female language independent of cultural context.
Isabel Rocamora has focused in her performances and installations since the early 1990s on the relationship between body, space and identity, developing a personal form of expression that she describes as “anti-gravity choreography”. The body seems to be freed from the force of gravity and hence from being tied down to any one place. This freedom is shown in Horizon of Exile from a different viewpoint as a sense of insecurity. The dancers’ bodies seem to rebel and then collapse, as though pulled from side to side and constantly forced to reassert themselves: the body as the metaphor of what the artist calls the “ever-changing condition of human consciousness”. Life in exile is shown as a never-ending battle with oneself and the effort to counteract the uprooting of one’s identity by creating a new one. The desert landscape chosen by the artist emphasizes the feeling of constant menace, with earth and water representing the only ties with the self.
Isabel Rocamora (Barcelona, 1968) has held performances at the Tate Britain in London, the GREC Festival in Barcelona, the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool and the Emirates Festival. She has shown videos at major international festivals such as Vidéoformes in Clermont-Ferrand and the British Dance Edition (BDE) at FACT in Liverpool, and won numerous prizes, including the IMZ Dance Screen Award for Best Screen Choreography 2007 and a Choreography Media Honors Award 2008 at Dance Camera West (DCW) in Los Angeles for Horizon of Exile. She lives and works in London and Barcelona.