Nick Hackworth

Shezad Dawood, Piercing Brightness, Paradise Row

Essays & Reviews Nowness

An investigation of migration and national identity takes place through the prism of mainstream science fiction in acclaimed conceptual artist Shezad Dawood's first feature-length film, Piercing Brightness. Following alien emissaries as they touch down on Earth to retrieve the 'Glorious 100' sent to our planet to study the development of the human race millenia ago, the work interweaves documentary and found footage, combining high-production cinematography with lo-fi analog aesthetics. Against the backdrop of Preston, England—known both for its mysteriously high UFO sighting rate and, more recently, its fast-growing Mainland Chinese population—a young couple Jiang and Shin land their spacecraft to carry out their mission. Negotiating the tense relationships of a diverse community in flux, what they find is a population of alien agents that have become inextricably entwined with the social fabric of their adopted home. As the son of a Pakistani mother, an Indian father and an Irish stepmother, Dawood reflects his varied cultural heritage in his multimedia investigations, and his international exhibitions include a recent solo show at Modern Art Oxford. Previewed here is an exclusive edit of the feature's 15-minute alternative version, Trailer, currently on view at the Paradise Row Gallery presentation at Art Basel Hong Kong, the full-length Piercing Brightness hits select cinemas on June 7, following a screening at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.