In the short film Visualization eyes are both a tantalising and upsetting glimpse into the conflicts and struggles of an artist’s mind and an unnerving indication of a doctor’s malevolence. Or is that just how her patients see her?
Written and directed by filmmaker Abdolrahman Sarraei, there’s a very 1960s sensibility to Vizualisation, from the stylish but empty corridors to the shot of a beautiful woman’s eyes (Mojo Mona), to the medic (Mona again) with her sharp bob and creepy, upturned expression, which will be reminiscent to many of A Clockwork Orange.
First we see Tom (played by Sarraei) painting on canvas — with his own body — the bare bones of a human figure, a developing image which seems to affect the performer (Mona) herself. Is he creating her or “merely” in control of her? Is he even in control of anything? Later we see him in a straightjacket, or with his fellow patients, identically dressed in white hospital gowns, questioned by the medic. In a series of chaotic hospital rooms coming off the silent pristine corridor, he’s treated against his will, attached to bags of red liquid — blood or paint.
Sarraei displays an unflinching filmmaker’s gaze here but there’s also a sparse elegance to his work. And it’s not hard to see his own experiences — he is Iranian-Kurdish, and currently living in exile — reflected in his short film: the straitjacket, the red paint/blood, the desperation to create followed by the interrogation of his artistic ideas.
Visualization is not easy to understand (sometimes it is too opaque) though it’s also not one to easily forget. There is little dialogue though the excellent score (from composer Jazzephin and co-composer Drok Par) makes up for that.
Abdolrahman Sarraei is an actor, filmmaker, and writer. He has not been allowed to return to work in Iran since 2019.