Exhibition | ‘Archival Impulse’ by Ayana V. Jackson

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Ayana V Jackson Drop your chin_Dress my hair, 2013. Archival print 111 x 111cm.

Ayana V. Jackson, Drop your chin/Dress my hair, 2013. Archival pigment print, 111 x 111cm

29th August – 7th October 2013,

The much anticipated new exhibition by American artist Ayana Jackson will be opening on August 29th in Johannesburg at Gallery MOMO and will run until 7th October 2013.

Synopses from the artist past and future exhibitions follow:

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Does the brown paper bag test really exist? / Will my father be proud? 2013. Archival pigment print (Ed of 6).

Archival Impulse: The real work of this series does not exist in physical form. It exists in the imaginary; in the space between my reference images, the spectator’s private thoughts/memories/associations, and the reenactments themselves.

At its core, it considers the chapter of photographic history that was underscored by the period of colonial expansion. It considers the role photography played in the architecture of racialized thinking. It considers the potentially violent exchanges between photographer and “subject”, while at the same time considering other interactions between them and looking for traces of agency.

Archival Impulse takes its name from Hal Foster’s idea that by confronting the archive new systems of knowledge can be created. In this case I confront late 19th and early 20th century photographs taken during the period of European colonial expansion. To do this I draw on images sourced from the Duggan Cronin collection created in South Africa, the works of unknown photographers practicing throughout the global south at the time, as well as documentation of reconstructed villages and “native” performers that were touring in Europe’s Human Zoos.

The scholarship of Susan Sontag, Elizabeth Edwards, Okwui Enwezor, Jennifer Bjorek, Pascal Blancher, and Tamar Garb are also informative.   In reading and comparing these texts I have found multiple angles for entering, interpreting and appropriating my reference materials. As visual experiments these final images aim to draw out the multiple ways the originals can be read: ethnographic, anthropologic, pornographic, historical documents, curiosities, etc.

My process involves identifying reoccurring motifs in the original images, interrogating them, performing them, and last, reconstructing them. My primary intervention is in my deliberate choice not to situate the “subjects” in the scenario.

I do this first to bring attention to the fact that these early photographs are theatrical performances written and directed by the photographer and subject alike and as such are fictitious; second to ask questions around the photograph’s potential as agent of propaganda; and last, if not most importantly, to transform this theater into a space where new narratives might emerge.

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Death, 2011 Archival Pigment print 145cm x 145cm Edition 6

Poverty Pornography: At its root is about the power of photography. Its motifs, methods, interests, and ultimately its effect on the collective memory.   While I have narrowed in on particular moments in photographic history and certain genres of the medium, this is not a conversation aimed at supporting binaries between the West and non-West, Colonial power and formerly colonized, Black and White, Rich and Poor, but rather to locate what I believe to be photography’s role in supporting, if not sustaining those binaries and the possibility that society as a whole is as much a beneficiary as a victim of photography’s might.

In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag writes;

The frankest representations of war and of disaster-injured bodies are of those who seem most foreign therefore least likely to be known. With subjects closer to home the photographer is expected to be more discreet …The more remote or exotic, the more likely we are to have full frontal views of the dead and dying…It seems that the appetite for pictures showing bodies in pain is as keen, almost, as the desire for ones that show bodies naked…

It is here that the series Poverty Pornography finds its genesis.

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Al Jazeera Documentaries to Investigate the French-African Connection

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On Thursdays during August and September, Al Jazeera will screen three documentary series (The French-African Connection, Black France and Algeria: The Test of Power) that spotlight the complex and topical relationship between France and Africa.

In January 2013, France responded to Mali’s request for assistance by launching a military intervention in Mali to prevent the Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups from taking control of the country. Is France pursuing a neo-colonial policy? Is it continuing “Françafrique,” the term coined to define France’s relationships with its former African colonies in which it supported unpopular African politicians for the sake of its economic interests in the region?

In a recent visit to Dakar, French president Francois Hollande declared the end of the “Françafrique” era. But is that really the case?

 

The French-African Connection

The French-African Connection which premiered on Thursday, 8 August 2013,  is a gripping three-part series that tells the dark and dramatic history of France’s relationships with its former African colonies.

The French-African Connection is a brutal and nefarious tale of corruption; massacres; dictators supported and progressive leaders murdered; weapons-smuggling; cloak-and-dagger secret services; and spectacular military operations. The series includes interviews with former oil barons; investigating judges into corruption scandals; former French ambassadors to African states; former French secret services; African presidents; and Francois Mitterand’s son.


The second and third episodes will premiere on 15 and 22 August respectively.

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Erick Msumanje | My Mother’s Songs

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Language: Swahili with English subtitles.

My Mother’s Songs, is set in an African landscape that examines inter-generational trauma. The film depicts a collection of traumatic experiences through the eyes of several young women desperately trying to make sense of their existence. This theme is connected to Africa’s history of brutal colonialism, shattered dreams from independence, and chronic poverty. The second trailer is particularly harrowing as a child tells a story of a parent’s murderous rejection. Watch to the end.

Tanzanian writer and director Erick Msumanje was recently awarded the highly-competitive Princess Grace Award for filmmaking. Msumanje, positions his film making to “push the boundaries of cinematography, aesthetics, and storytelling.”

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Recent work includes The Journey which examines violence, fear and racism from the perspective of a little boy in search of something that could potentially change himself and those around him and a short documentary film titled The Devil’s House, which is about a mysterious young man who takes a journey clouded in blurred memory, displacement, and trauma.

Join writer and director Erick Msumanje for the first screening of My Mother’s Songs, at Hampshire College which will serve as his Division III (senior thesis) premiere.

APRIL 6, 2013, 7:00 PM
Hampshire College (Jerome Liebling Center for Film, Photography, and Video)

Bill Brand Screening Room (room 120)

‘His To Keep’ by Amirah Tajdin

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12 min

Language: Kikuyu, English subtitles

Director: Amirah Tajdin

His To Keep is a short film by Kenyan filmmaker Amirah Tajdin.

It’s a film about a Kenyan man’s struggle to deal with painful memories of his and others’ resistance efforts to colonialism. A phone call forces hurtful experiences to the fore and he realises that time does not necessarily heal all wounds. He remembers loved ones he lost and contemplates the meaning of such pain. His To Keep screened at the CinemAfrica Sweden festival.

Besides making short films, Tajdin draws, DJ’s, creates wall murals and sculptures. She enjoys making films about social misfits, exploring cliche’s and trying to re-present them to the world. 

In keeping with her penchant for telling stories of the disenfranchised, Tajdin’s talent is displayed yet again in another short story Ciné Kenya featured here. Flourescent Sin a story about a drag queen thats is experiencing terrible heartbreak.

The film witnesses the drag queen’s poetic pandemonium; both self and body are stuck in Nairobi railway station’s no man’s land. “I’m stuck between where I’m supposed to be and where I am” — both a lament on his/her body, and a literal comment on the act of waiting at a train station, and the self-reflection waiting induces. Amirah Tajdin deftly melds the now iconic familiarity of Nairobi station, with the odd-beauty of the drag queen, playing on the expected and unexpected.

Another short story with a PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) theme related to colonial war is Tabatô. Which Ciné Kenya featured here.

Guillaume Bonn, ‘Silent Lives’

Kavina (left) is a fifty-year-old grandmother who works as a maid. She came to Kenya as a refugee from Uganda; her entire family was killed during the Idi Amin regime. Florence, also a maid, is forty-seven years old and comes from Kakamega. She is planning to get married in church so that her daughter may be allowed to have a religious marriage. Her husband works in a hotel in Nairobi.

The maids prepare a room for a guest coming to spend the weekend.

A nanny by the pool of the Muthaiga Club, situated in a residential area of Nairobi, while her young charge relaxes on a sun bed.

Guillame Boon has produced a remarkable series of photos about the lives of domestic workers titled Silent Lives for which he was nominated for the Piclet Prize in 2012.

Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker writes, ” Kenya, in other words, is no longer the place of Karen Blixen’s nostalgically remembered, illusory Eden, where everyone except the whites knew their place….and yet, as Bonn reveals, some of the old social heriarchies persist in some of the country’s most privileged households”.

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Wangechi Mutu: A Fantasic Journey, Nasher Museum of Art

Artist Wangechi Mutu in her Brooklyn studio, 2012. Photo by Kathryn Parker Almanas.

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The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University has organized Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu’s first survey in the United States. The exhibition Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey runs from March 21st to July 21st 2013

Mutu’s work is internationally renowned for exploring sensitive issues like race, colourism, the eroticization of the black female body, colonialism, gender, war, consumerism and globalization. She creates ” mysterious figures pieced together with human, animal, machine and monster parts. She often combines found materials and magazine cutouts with sculpture and painted imagery, sampling from sources as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the fashion industry and science fiction.”

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Applied Theories of Expanding Minds

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29 minutes

2011

Film format: Mini DV NTSC

Within a future community in Kenya, a group of people have decided to free themselves from years of oppression and no longer follow the usual customs. From now on, they will organise their lives according to rules imposed by the magnetic fields of the Earth.

You can view the full short film in the video above.

Starring:   Hsing Fen Tu Ålemark, Delphine Nimu, Mariam Khamis, Elisha Kwingare, George Strong, Lucas Ouma Ontango, George Otieno, Emma Aki, Ken Odero, Richard Otieno, Maureen Anyango, Irene Adhiambo, Phijuis Kangogo, Henry Harry Potter Otieno

Director: Rut Karin Zettergren

Producers: Jennifer Rainsford, Lena Bergendahl, Rut Karin Zettergren

Find out more here