Adelita Husni-Bey
After the Finish Line

After the Finish Line is a recent film by Adelita Husni-Bey produced for the exhibition Movement Break at Kadist-SF in 2015. It was developed in collaboration with a group of teenage athletes who have experienced injury as a result of their respective sporting activities. Through radical pedagogical practice, a process that attempts to de-individualize feelings of failure, the artist and the athletes recorded their experiences, discussing the meaning and trappings of competition — and in particular, from where desires for success stem. The film alternates between two distinct styles: one associated to sport-branded slick advertisements, and the other one to an experimental documentary approach. Linking these approaches together is the running conversation between Adelita Husni-Bey and the teenagers where they analyze the effect of pain, their consequent failure as athletes, and what it means for them to compete. The artist pictures the athletes as perfect machines whose gestures are full of tension for the imminent performance, whose eyes are sharp and focused. Then, she exposes how the teenagers — after experiencing a body defeat — experience a psychological breakdown. The film’s subject of sport operates as a larger metaphor for the endless performance of life. Being an athlete is like being the perfect human being, and particularly in the American milieu, where the athletic ideal is an image deeply interconnected to success.

Born in Milan, Italian-Libyan Adelita Husni-Bey is an artist and researcher. Her practice, which encompasses drawing, painting, collage, video, and participatory workshops, concentrates on micro-utopias, and on how the collective memory works as well as questioning the mechanisms of political and economic power and control. Her background in sociology as well as fine arts has helped in criticizing prevailing systems of organization of advanced capitalist societies in areas such as labour, schooling and housing. She questions the type of visibility there is in producing an artwork on ‘under-represented communities’, and looks for alternatives as a form of reaction to the way Western society is structured. In that sense, her role as an artist strives to instigate reflection on, and effectively produce, alternative social imaginaries.