Up Next by Eva & Franco Mattes is a silent montage of images and press clips that unwinds at an inconceivable pace, like a Roger Corman film shot by Jean-Marie Straub. It pulls you into that cadence, and you settle into it, though never at ease, until you find yourself in a Procrustean bed of questions and puzzles. A sentient bed, caring in its peculiar way, like the monstrous beds in which the characters in Cronenberg's Crimes of the Future sleep, continually shaken.
At the bottom of this story different powers fought each other, or sometimes just crossed paths, even entering into ephemeral alliances:
1. The algorithmic power of social media relentlessly pressing to transform persons into characters, imposing anorexigenic models of femininity of which the images created by Sahar Tabar are an undeclared parody. Like all parodies, in the current post-postmodern cultural climate, it has no real critical charge, it does not know what targets to hit, it is a jumble of bullets fired haphazardly. This story has become emblematic not because of the power of the images but because of the context, the fact that it took place in Iran, and the repression that it triggered.
2. Precisely, the powers of an oppressive and patriarchal state that intervenes in the algorithmic power when they become dysfunctional, when they give a woman a "wrong" protagonism, taking the female body away from the control of the authorities. Taking it away – this must be clear – without liberating it.
3. The power of the global media that turned the contradiction between state power and algorithmic power – contradiction played on a woman's body, or rather, on the assumed image of that body – into news, devoting themselves to the meanest exploitation and writing everything and the opposite of everything.
Up Next shows us Sahar in the condition of multiple victim of this web of micro- and macro power. And it is important to watch from beginning to end, never looking away, not even during the black inserts. These are the moments when thought can be exercised, until, in the end, one rises from that bed of Procrustes, aware once again that all those powers must be fought.