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Bath Time, 5m Sharif Waked. In 2009, two donkeys were transformed into zebras in Gaza by an entrepreneur whose zoo was badly damaged in the Israeli incursion earlier that year. The aftermath of this cross-dressing of species is the subject of Bath Time, where a donkey takes a good shower after a long day saturated with the spectator’s gaze and laughter at the Gaza Zoo.

'The violence of images and the threat of sounds.'

RITUALS FOR TEMPORAL DEPROGRAMMING CURATED FOR THE DHAKA ART SUMMIT BY THE OTOLITH GROUP

 

To use images, sounds, voices, gestures, expressions, noises, colours, spaces and silences to deprogram the inherited orders of temporality, chronology and history that seek to manage and encourage the form of the present and the fate of the future. To formulate audio-visual projects that operate as diagrams for reprogramming the parameters of the present. To intervene in the timelines of the present in order to hack the lines of time. To be guided by an imagination of the future that works on and in and through the present.

 

These impulses, intimations and imperatives subtend the works of the artists selected and can be understood as rituals for the deprogramming of time, reprogramming in time and programming with time. Rites that aimsto bring viewers face to face with the violence of images and the threat of sounds so as to intervene in the foreclosures of colonial time and racial space.

 

The videos directed by Hadel Assali, Taysir Batniji, Mohammed Harb, Salman Nawati and Sharif Waked were programmed by Jasbir Puar and Francesco Sebregondi for the installation Future Lives of Return, 2019, and commissioned by Sharjah Architecture Triennial.

 

Bataaxalu Ndakaaru, 2019, 47m, Morgan Quaintance: Bataaxalu Ndakaaru (Letter from Dakar) surveys aspects of the vibrant grass roots arts and culture scene in the Senegalese capital of Dakar. Highlighting the difference between the openess and innovation of community run spaces versus the staid professionalism of established galleries and museums, the film offers the first critical look at the much-touted Museum of Black Civilisations.

 

Another Decade, 2018, 26m50s Morgan Quaintance. Another Decade combines archive and found footage from the 1990s, with recently shot 16mm film and standard definition video. Focusing on testimonies and statements made by artists, theorists and cultural producers that are still pertinent over two decades later, the film is propelled by the sense reality that very little socio-cultural or institutional change has taken place in the United Kingdom. While recent attention paid to the ’90s casts a largely apolitical and monocultural view over the decade, the work seeks to exhume evidence buried in the shallow grave of cultural amnesia of another, more political, iconoclastic, and confrontational decade that promised a future still yet to arrive.

 

So They Say, 2019, 11m Ayo Akingbade. Set in 1985 and the present day, So They Say explores and reflects on the often-forgotten histories of black and brown community struggle in the East London borough of Newham.

 

Breathe Life into the Death of Rocks, 2018, 30m Louis Henderson. Wandering from a study of the handwritten memoirs of Toussaint Louverture in the French National Archives to his prison cell in the Jura mountains in which they were written, bring Breathe Life into the Death of Rocks proposes an archaeology of the colonial history of France buried within its landscapes and institutions. If stratigraphy is the writing of strata, here we have a reading of this strata in which the fossilised history of Louverture can be brought to life through a geologic haunting. The film dramatises the escape of Louverture’s ghost from his castle prison (through the body of a young Haitian researcher) into a form of marronage and errantry within the fields of snow and a dark baroque-like cave. The film offers what Glissant described in the introduction to his play Monsieur Toussaint as ‘a prophetic vision of the past’. We hear an echo, a spiral retelling.

 

How Does an Invisible Boy Disappear?, 2018, 25m Rehana Zaman. How Does an Invisible Boy Disappear? emerges from a nine-month collaboration with Liverpool Black Women Filmmakers, a new women’s film collective made up of young women from a Somali & Pakistani background. The film documents the group as they work together to create a thriller focusing on a teenage girl’s attempt to find a missing local boy. Comprised of candid footage captured during the workshop process, behind the scenes filming and archive footage of anti-racist organising in the aftermath of the Toxteth race riots, the film questions how modes of representation and societal structures are gendered and racialised.

 

Your Ecstatic Self, 2019, 31m50s Rehana Zaman (Not Suitable for Children). Your Ecstatic Self is a conversation unfolding in a car with Sajid, the artist’s brother. As the journey progresses Sajid discusses his engagement with the philosophy and practice of Tantra, having spent the majority of his 44 years as a strict Sunni Pakistani Muslim. Placing the idiosyncrasies of western fetishism towards eastern philosophical traditions alongside cultural orthodoxies and ancestral knowledge, Your Ecstatic Self takes up multifaceted expressions of desire, intimacy and sexual agency.

 

Black Quantum Futurism Visual Astrolabe, 2015, 7m07s Black Quantum Futurism. The mysterious Antikythera Mechanism, an astrolabe known as the first computer, was recovered in 82 fragments from a sunken shipwreck off the island of Antikythera around 1900. Although it is widely believed to have been constructed by a Greek astronomer around 100 BCE, this origin story has not been confirmed. No other such technologically complex artifact appeared anywhere in Europe until late 14th century. In 2015AD, BQF Theorists unearthed rare, previously unseen records and unheard sound clips claiming to detail the true origins of the mechanism as designed and constructed by a secret society in ancient Ifriqiyah as a device for time displacement.

 

All Time is Local, 2019, 5m Black Quantum Futurism. Like politics and the weather, all time is local. Considering time’s intimate relationship to space and locality, this text, video, and object series continues the work of BQF in recovering and amplifying historical memory of autonomous Black communal space-times in North Philly, meditating on the complex, contested temporal and spatial legacies of historical, liberatory Black futurist projects based primarily in North Philly, such as Progress Aerospace Enterprises, Zion Gardens, and Berean Institute.

 

Black Space Agency Training Video, 2018, 4m09s Black Quantum Futurism. On the occasion of the 50-year anniversary of the enactment of the United States Fair Housing Act, Black Space Agency explores the chronopolitical imaginaries of the Civil Rights and Black Liberation movements during the space race, particularly as it unfolded in North Philadelphia in 1968.  The series follows the pattern of entanglements in the fight for affordable and fair housing, displacement/space/land grabs, and gentrification for a better understanding of its present-day implications on Black spatial-temporal autonomy.

 

Futurist Garvey // Gravity WAVES Sound Image Study, 2016, 2m42s Black Quantum Futurism. Futurity in the Black diaspora predates the coining of the term Afrofuturism. One example of this is Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and the Black Star Line, which envisioned the future of Black Americans as a return, by ship, to Africa, and which took practical steps to create an alternative economy to achieve these goals. Imagine how different the course of history would be, had the Black Star Line succeeded with its stated mission. On the other hand, one can see the spread of the Garveyite waves of gravity, his impact on the future of Black America-to-come, as a catalyst and inspiration for other Black resistance movements, with an influence in name and philosophy capable of binding space-time.  

 

The Beast, 2018, 8m Esi Eshun. Unfolding through a series of enigmatic tableaux, told through the artist’s poetry, voice, field recordings and improvised score, The Beast takes the listener on a dreamlike journey through myth, collective memory and fable, to a place where dark undercurrents linking The City of London, the West African coast, muck, gold and Frantz Fanon’s anti-colonial classic, The Wretched of the Earth, coincide.

 

The names have changed, including my own and truths have been altered, 2019, 25m42s Onyeka Igwe. This is a story of the artist’s grandfather, the story of the ‘land’ and the story of an encounter with Nigeria—retold at a single point in time, in a single place. The artist is trying to tell a truth in as many ways as possible. The names have changed tells us the same story in four different ways: a folktale of two brothers rendered in the broad, unmodulated strokes of colonial British moving images; a Nollywood TV series, on VHS, based on the first published Igbo novel; a story of the family patriarch, passed down through generations; and the diary entries from the artist’s first solo visit to her family’s hometown.

 

NOIRBLUE, 2017, 27m Ana Pi. NOIRBLUE opens space to fiction and an Atlantic navigation of some peripheral bodies. This exercise interrogates presence, absence, speeches and time to produce an extemporary dance aligned to two specific colours: the blackness of the skin and the ultramarine blue pigment.

 

Voices of the Gods, 1985, 58m Alfred Santana. Voices of the Gods examines the Akan and Yoruba religions, two West African traditions practiced within the United States today. It looks at their cosmologies, their use of music, dance and medicine in various ceremonies and rituals. The film includes contemporary and historical examples of the influences of these religions in secular African-American culture, which in turn influenced mainstream American society, more through culture than religion, and in some ways, even politics.

 

Time Travel Experiments (Experimental Time Order), 2017, 9m30s Black Quantum Futurism.  Do-it-yourself time travel experiments from an embedded time travel manual in the speculative fiction book Recurrence Plot (and Other Time Travel Tales), written and published by Rasheedah Phillips. Depicted time travel experiments employ the concept of Black Grandmother Paradoxes, which emphasize matrilineal or matri-curvature timelines that are feminine and communally-generated, where the future emerges into the past by way of omens, prophecies, and symbols, while the past is a space of open possibility, speculation, and active revision by multiple generations of people situated in the relative future.

 

Dear Babylon, 2019, 21m Ayo Akinbade. The future of social housing is threatened by the AC30 Housing Bill. Dear Babylon is set in London's East End, a trio of art students are eager to raise awareness about their neighbourhood, especially the lives of tenants and people who work on the estate.

 

Street 66, 2018, 13m43s Ayo Akinbade. Street 66 Chronicles the life of Ghanaian housing activist Dora Boatemah and her influence on the regeneration of Angell Town Estate in Brixton, South London. Dr. Theodora Boatemah MBE was born in Kumasi, Ghana in 1957, where her mother worked in President Kwame Nkrumah’s cabinet. In 1987, she founded the Angell Town Community Project and campaigned for the community-controlled regeneration of the Angell Town Estate in Brixton. Dora was awarded an MBE in 1994 for services to the community in Brixton and received an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University in 1996. Dora died in 2001 at the age of 43.

 

'Representational regimes of image and sound.'

 

‘BLACKNESS IS NOT AN ESSENCE BUT A HACK (OR SERIES THEREOF)’ / A SELECTION OF FILMS BY TONY COKES

 

Tony Cokes investigates identity and opposition through reframing and repositioning. He questions how race and gender influence the construction of subjectivities, and how they are perceived through "representational regimes of image and sound" as perpetuated by Hollywood, the media and popular culture. His assemblages consist of archival footage, media images, text commentary, and pop music.

 

Face Value, 2015, 14m10s. Face Value can be said to have started with a short text that Cokes was asked to write prior to the American release of Lars von Trier’s Manderlay in 2006. At the time he decided to focus his commentary on one section of the film the end credits featuring the David Bowie song 'Young Americans". The text was not published, but while writing it a friend informed him of some quotations from David Bowie that seemed to be relevant to it. When in 2011 he had an opportunity to publish a portion of the text in a new context, another friend and colleague suggested some then recent quotations from von Trier himself that might relate to the project. What started as a long epigraph to a text became a sequence of images.

 

Evil 12 (edit B) Fear, Spectra and Fake Emotions, 2009, 11m43s. The text in Evil 12 is excerpted from Brian Massumi's essay 'Fear (The Spectrum Said),' which discusses the Bush Administration's terror alert color-coding system as a method to modulate public affect via media representation...The insertion of a soundtrack by Modeselektor with uncanny vocals from Paul St. Hilaire (remixed by Dabrye) seeks to double (ghost) and thereby underline the point of Massumi's complex media textual analysis.

 

Microhaus ...or The Black Atlantic?, 2006-2008, 31m07s. Mikrohaus... "Mikrohaus, or the black Atlantic? presents transcribed text interviews set to music. The project was inspired by the writing of music critic Philip Sherburne, who coined the term “Micro House’ to describe the conjuncture of minimal techno and house music tropes in the early 21st century. Central to the video’s intent is foregrounding how black pop cultural forms are consumed and then redeployed to produce hybrid interventions in today’s global contexts. The work also features fragmented interviews with German techno/house producers framed by the comments of Detroit techno artists discussing the relation between their practices, which reference Afro-American musical traditions, and questions of racial politics, perception, and identity.

'A personal perspective to political events.'

MONTAGE, MY BEAUTIFUL TOOL / A SELECTION OF FILMS BY RANIA STEPHAN

 

Rania Stephan has directed videos and creative documentaries notable for their play with genres, and the long-running investigation of memory, identity, archaeology of image and the figure of the detective. Anchored in the turbulent reality of her country, her documentaries give a personal perspective to political events. She gives raw images a poetic edge, filming chance encounters with compassion and humour.

 

The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni, 2011, 70m. The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni is a rapturous elegy to a rich era of film production in Egypt, lapsed today, through one of its most revered actress: Soad Hosni, who from the 1960 into the 1990s, embodied the modern Arab woman in her complexity and paradoxes. Pieced exclusively from VHS footage of films starring Soad Hosni, the film is constructed as a tragedy in three acts where the actress tells her dreamed life story. Irreverent, playful, marvellous, serious, the film proposes a singular rewriting of a golden period of Egyptian cinema, enacted by an exceptional artist, tragic star, symbol of modern Arab womanhood.

 

Threshold Film, 2018, 11m30s.  Entirely taken from an old Egyptian science fiction film The Master of Time (1987) about an illuminated scientist wanting to extend human life, Threshold is built on the intuition that if this science fiction film were emptied of all its fictional elements, retaining only the transition shots featuring doors, gates and boundary crossings, The Master of Time would reveal its quintessence: it’s obsession with eternity and the extension of time. Here, the science fiction experience is doubled. This new condensed version of The Master of Time lies on the threshold of fiction and abstraction, narration and experimentation, cinema and art.

 

Double Cross, 2018, 3m40s Rania Stephan. A video loop of Marc McPhearson, the detective in Otto Preminger’s film Laura (1942). A private eye investigator tasked with delving into Stephan’s personal archive and memory. The cross fade seen in the clip is a classical cinematic code for transiting smoothly from one space to another using the ellipse to condense ‘useless’ narrative time. Images from one shot overlap with images from the next shot, often resulting in unique and surprising compositions. Here, the detective remains stuck in transition, stretching out the overlapping composition. The video uses the same tools to expand the notion of condensed time itself and becomes doubly enchained in an eternal loop.

 

Memories of a Private Eye, 2015, 30m35s, Rania Stephan. Memories of a Private Eye is the first chapter in a trilogy, which investigates the filmmaker’s personal archive. Evoking the language of film noir, it foregrounds a fictional detective to help unfold deep and traumatic memories. The film spirals around a lost image: the only moving image of the filmmaker’s dead mother. How is absence lived? What remains of love, war and death with the passing of time? These are the questions that are delicately displayed for contemplation. Weaving together images from different sources (private archive, history of the cinema, television, you-tube) while investigatig the past, the film unfolds into a labyrinthic maze to create a blueprint of remembrance itself.

'An experiment in alternative economies.'

 

OTHER FILMS:

 

Xeex bi du jeex, 2018, 70m Raphaël Grisey, Bouba Touré and Kaddù Yaraax (CR4 Symposium Film). This film is an innovative initiative that employs collective methodologies to revisit the collective history that was in and of itself an experiment in alternative economies. The result of a workshop held in 2018 in Senegal, it draws on conversations with Bouba Touré around the archives of the Somankidi Coura cooperative and employs improvisation methods from the Theatre of the Oppressed.

'Gaza on my mind.'

GAZA ON MY MIND FILMS ON AND FROM PALESTINE AND GAZA FOLLOWED BY A SEMINAR AND LECTURE BY JASBIR PUAR (BY SKYPE) AND FRANCESCO SEBREGONDI (MODERATED BY THE OTOLITH GROUP).

 

Bath Time, 5m Sharif Waked. In 2009, two donkeys were transformed into zebras in Gaza by an entrepreneur whose zoo was badly damaged in the Israeli incursion earlier that year. The aftermath of this cross-dressing of species is the subject of Bath Time, where a donkey takes a good shower after a long day saturated with the spectator’s gaze and laughter at the Gaza Zoo.

 

Scenario, 2m 43s Salman Nawati. Scenario is a meditation on movement, and an oblique reference to maiming.

 

Port Hour, 3m 12s Salman Nawati. Port Hour shows the artist’s vexed relationship with the Gaza port, where he struggles with the sea which acts as both freedom and barrier.

 

Daggit Gazza, 7m15s Hadeel Assali. Daggit Gaza is a play on translation, as the spicy tomato salad made in Gaza (called daggah) also means the pounding of Gaza.” Preparation happens whilst a phone conversation between Houston and Gaza serves as voiceover commentary.

 

Transit, 6m30s Taysir Batniji. Transit presents a silent slideshow, made up of photographic images, taken at border passages between Egypt and Gaza, reflecting the passing of time and the difficult and often impossible conditions of mobility for today’s Palestinians.

 

Light from Gaza, 10m Mohammed Harb