The Young Man Was (Part 1: United Red Army)
October 20 2011
Dir. Naeem Mohaiemen, 67 minutes, 2011
On September 28 1977, the Japanese Red Army hijacks flight JAL 472 to Dhaka, Bangladesh. Six days later, the Japanese government gives in to the hijackers’ demands, and the plane flies to Algeria. The aftermath marks a hard shift in government approaches to negotiations. Two weeks later, the hijack of Lufthansa 181 ends very differently—German commandos storm the plane, killing the hijackers. The aftershocks include the Stammheim suicides and the execution of Hanns-Martin Schleyer. Act one of a certain 1970s scene ends.
The film incorporates the audio transcripts of the negotiations between the Dhaka control tower and the lead hijacker. Shumon Bashar writes in Tank: “the crackly voices of these two strangers hurled into a forced, awkward intimacy with contemporaneous news and television footage… the tone with which they started their discussion was peculiarly polite, until the accord between ransom and reason reached breaking point.”
The film is part of an ongoing project, supported by Creative Capital.
Since 2006, Naeem Mohaiemen has been working on a history of the 1970s ‘ultra-left,’ using essays, photography, and film. Chapters have shown at various venues, including Frieze Art Fair, Sharjah Biennial, Finnish Museum of Photography, Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City) and Experimenter (Kolkata). Earlier projects looked at security panic (as a member of Visible Collective), military coups (My Mobile Weighs A Ton), partition (Kazi in Nomansland), and architectural nationalism (Penn Station Kills Me). Articles and publications include “Islamic Roots of Hip-Hop” (Sound Unbound, MIT Press, edited by DJ Spooky), System Error (with Lorenzo Fusi, Silvana Editoriale), Collectives in Atomised Time (with Doug Ashford, Idensitat), “Everybody Wants To Be Singapore” (Carlos Motta: The Good Life, Art in General), “Adman Blues” (Indian Highway, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Julia Peyton-Jones), and “Mujtaba Ali: Amphibian Man” (Rest of Now: Manifesta 7, edited by Rana Dasgupta).
Courtesy the artist and New Museum, New York