Filmed in Morocco, the film Atlas by Karthik Pandian continues his investigation into history, site and monument. The film explores fundamental notions of movement, freedom and the cinematic imaginary through the figure of the camel. Rather than focusing on the Moroccan patrimonial landscape, which is itself full of simulations and fantasies conjured for the touristic imagination, Pandian shot the video in Ouarzazate, Hollywood’s go-to location to stage the desert — from Lawrence of Arabia to The Mummy. Littered with deteriorating sets constructed for films set in Jerusalem, ancient Egypt, Rome, Mecca… etc, the site portrayed in the video is itself disoriented, as Pandian collapses the distinction between set and location. Is it the Middle East? Is it the Western imagination of the Middle East? Is it a Moroccan fiction of the Middle East constructed for a Western gaze? In the video, camel ‘actors’ in custom-tailored costumes embroidered with American pennies and nickels, restlessly traverse the frame. Pandian’s stroboscopic editing of these sequences recall the flicker of Eadweard Muybridge’s 19th century animal locomotion studies, which focused photographic attention on the camel when it was first being introduced to the American West. The video also features an original score written for Pandian by renowned experimental composer Christian Wolff. The score, performed with coins, along with the embroidery on the costumes, summon the uneven exchanges – cultural, political, economic – that haunt the pursuit of liberty.