Extract from ‘For a few Rupees More’
In the beginning the project was to be a 3-screen video installation, relocating and extending the opening sequence of Sergio Leone’s ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’. The famous drawn-out opening sequence, running to 20minutes – which serves to buildup an unbearable tension, before exploding in a rapid exchange of gunfire, would be doubled to40 minutes, and take in multiple points of view. Relocated to the desert between Karachi and Hyderabad, in Pakistan, these multiple points-of-view, would take in the various shifts in location and semiotics.
Having completed castings for non-professionals to play the lead roles, and found locations that would mirror the slippage of the original locations (the film was shot in various locations from Utah in the USA to Andalucía in Spain), it was decided that to shoot the video was superfluous to the intentions of the project. Instead the intended soundtrack for the installation was substituted as ‘the work’.
For this soundtrack the artist took the various Ennio Morricone composed fragments for the various westerns of Sergio Leone (including ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ and ‘For a Few Dollars More’). These were then ‘cut up’ to form a new soundtrack running to the 40minutes duration of the proposed video work, and conforming to its proposed emotional narrative and story arc. Subsequently Pakistan’s foremost sitar player: Nafees Ahmed, was commissioned to solo improvise to this new score. In the final instance the artist’s arrangement was deleted, leaving only the 40 minute improvisation for solo sitar.
Shezad Dawood was born in London in 1974 and trained at Central St Martin’s and the Royal College of Art before undertaking a PhD at Leeds Metropolitan University. Dawood works across many different forms of media, and much of his practice involves curating and collaboration, frequently working with other artists to build on and create unique networks of critically engaged discursive circles. These networks map across different geographic locations and communities, and are particularly concerned with acts of translation and restaging. For example, his collaborative ‘Feature’ ﬁlm (2008), which relocated the action of a traditional western to the English country-side, slipping into other sub-genres such as the zombie-ﬂick, and Wagnerian opera (and features cameos from artists Jimmie Durham and David Medalla). And ‘Insha’allah’ 2009, which restaged Beckett within Islamic immigrant communities in Milan.
Dawood’s work has been exhibited internationally, including as part of Altermodern - curated by Nicolas Bourriaud at Tate Britain, and the 53rd Venice Biennale (both 2009). And his further extensive exhibitions include projects in cities such as: Dubai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Fribourg, Hamburg, Sydney and Singapore. Upcoming projects include the Busan biennale in Korea (2010), a collaboration with contemporary dance choreographer Jasmin Vardimon at Sadlers Wells in London (2011), and a feature-length sci-ﬁ ﬁlm, which will go into production in the summer of 2011. He currently lives and works in London, where he is Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow in Experimental Media at the University of Westminster