African Postcolonial Imaginaries

African Postcolonial Imaginaries

On the project " In and Out of Brussels"
Els Opsomer "Building Stories # 001 [That Distant Piece of Mine]", 2012 (fotograma)

The seminar African Postcolonial Imaginaries combines a debate on the postcolonial condition and with the presentation of a series of documentaries specially produced for this project. Included in the selection are authors such as Herman Asselberghs, Sven Augustijnen, Renzo Martens and Els Opsomer. Starting with their works and the debates they have prompted, T.J. Demos and Hilde Van Gelder, art historians and authors of a publicationentitled In and Out of Brussels, will conduct an open seminar organised by MACBA. The main theme of the seminar will be the eternal question of how to relate the history of colonialism and, in particular, how can the relationship between Europe and Africa be represented from a contemporary perspective rooted in the conditions of the present and marked by a moment in time when Europe itself is being identified as a crisis zone.

Open seminar led by T.J. Demos and Hilde Van Gelder .

Spectres (2011) by Sven Augustijnen.
Vvideo, colour, 16:9, French spokensoundtrack, BE, 2011, 104′

Fifty years after his assassination, Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the newly independent Congo, is back to haunt Belgium. Through commemorations, encounters and a return visit, a top-ranking Belgian civil servant who was in Elisabethville on that tragic day of 17 January 1961 attempts to exorcise the ghosts of the past. To the sound of St John Passion by J.S. Bach, Spectres plunges us into one of the blackest days of the Belgian Congo’s decolonisation. An examination of the biopolitical body, this feature-length film by Sven Augustijnen exposes the fine line separating legitimation and historiography and the traumatic question of responsibility and debt.
Spectres won the Public Libraries Prize and GNCR Prize and received a special mention from the jury of the International Competition at FID Marseille (FR). At Filmer à Tout Prix (BE) it won the Prize of the Flemish Community.

Sven Augustijnen (Mechelen, Belgium, 1970) studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, the Hoger Sint-Lukas Instituut in Brussels, and at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. His work concentrates mainly on the tradition of portraiture and the porous boundaries between fiction and reality, using a hybrid of genres and techniques to disorienting effect. His films have been included in exhibitions and festivals in Athens, Basel, Fribourg, San Sebastián, Siegen, Rotterdam, Tunis, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Vilnius, among others. In 2007 he participated in the documenta 12 magazine project, in collaboration with A Prior Magazine. In 2011 he received the Evens Prize for Visual Arts. He lives and works in Brussels.

Speech Act (2011) by Herman Asselberghs.
Vvideo, colour, 16:9, stereo, Dutch spokensoundtrack, English subtitles, BE, 2011, 29′

Following up on his meticulous dissection of the Apple laptop (in Dear Steve), Herman Asselberghs now turns his attention to another global popular consumer product: Avatar, the most expensive and highest-grossing film ever. By way of an elaborated interior monologue taking on the form of a film studies class, Speech Act covers a complex of themes well beyond cinema concerns. As the acme of mainstream culture, James Cameron’s sci-fi epic turns out to provide ample fodder for a critique of triumphant transparency, impressively delivered by the established Brussels actor Willy Thomas. Commissioned within the context of the project In and Out of Brussels: Africa Inside Europe, Asselberghs’’ newest latest work eloquently talks about all things black.

Herman Asselberghs (Mechelen; Belgium, 1962) is a Belgian artist whose work focuses on the questioning of border areas between sound and image, world and media, poetry and politics. His installations and videos have been shown at Centre Pompidou, Paris; documenta X10, Kassel; Deitch Projects, New York; CGAC, Santiago de Compostela; hartware, Dortmund; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Netwerk, Aalst; M HKA, Antwerp; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; International Film Festival Rotterdam; Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin; FID Marseille; EMAF Osnabrück; Medien- und Architectur Biennale Graz; and Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid. In 2007 he won the Transmediale Award in Berlin. Herman Asselberghs, who hasHaving published extensively on film and visual culture, he teaches at the film department of Hogeschool Sint-Lukas Brussel. He lives and works in Brussels.

Building Stories # 001 [That Distant Piece of Mine] (2012) by Els Opsomer.
AIs a cinematographic portrait of the contemporary landscape in Senegal. It, this film witnesses daily common, daily activity in an often,- estranged setting. The departure point was the wondering about the striking grace found in the movements of the Senegalese as they stroll about their surroundings. Their direct, physical contact with the soil, implying an anchoring, suggests a confidence in their location that connects to a historical consciousness. The decisiveness with which one wades through the environment shows not just ‘what is’,’ but also ‘what was’.’ Experiencing this connection between people and the land leads to an image of the invisible, the intrinsic foundations on which everyone builds but which remain forever intangible, beyond the representable.

The architecture, which often seemings like so many UFOs that have landed ion the landscape, or the infrastructure that appears orphaned in its environment, generating generate a strong feeling of alienation and absurdity. These relics are often the visual remnants of three hundred years of coloniszation, to which they continue to testify. The tension within the film therefore lies in the interaction between the familiar and the alienating, between what is constructed and what is dilapidated, between the stories one invents and those that the landscape divulges. The tension is also between past and future, perception and experience, and between what moves and what stands still. Ultimately, a poetic, infinite portrait appears that radiates a solitary calm.

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15 February 2013 – 16 February 2013
MACBA Auditorium. In English with simultaneous translation on Saturday 16. Free entrance. Limited seating
African Postcolonial Imaginaries
Dora García
Hilde van Helder
T. J. Demos
Els Opsomer
Manuel Olveira
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