Double-Take: Officer/Leader of the Chasseurs/Syrian Revolution Commanding a Charge (2014) is an installation that uses video, sound and paintings to tell the story of how a contemporary version of Théodore Géricault’s painting Officer of the Chasseurs Commanding a Charge (1812, in the Louvre) where in which the artist replaced the French imperial officer with Sultan Basha Al-Atrash (1891–1982) the leader of the Syrian uprising against the French in 1925–1927. The painting was commissioned by a wealthy businessman from Syria for his British country house and anglophilia is the unusual reason for this paradoxical sight of an anti colonial image that uses the aesthetics of its colonizer. The sound appropriates a traditional method of storytelling set to music of which Sultan Basha Al Atrash often features and together with the photographs the work provokes a mediation on the way colonial violence is represented, celebrated, embodied and appropriated. Abu Hamdan uses the doubleness of the story told by the paintings (the beginning and end of French imperialism) to understand the ways in which people build a complex and contradictory relationships to their colonial past. The two hundred years separating Géricault’s painting from its perversion are condensed in one moment of double-take, into which a whole history of the colonial project can be read.
2 minute extract of the video component of the installation below