Post-colonialism

Using footage from mainstream British and Hollywood films, and excerpts from a poem by Shani Mootoo, this video explores the impact of cultural imperialism and the erasure of language—residual tools of oppression on members of post-colonial societies.

This title is also available on The New McLennium.

Four tales about cannibal monsters narrated and performed by the Waiãpi Indians. “We have made the video,” say the Waiãpi, “to teach people to be more careful with monsters they never heard about. Even a white man can be eaten as he goes into the forest.”

Directed by Vincent Carelli and Dominique Gallois.

Edited by Tutu Nunes.

In Waiãpi with English subtitles.

Invited to speak at an Indigenous Revolutionary Meeting, the narrator describes an intimate encounter with an Evil Colonizing Queen which leads to Turtle Island's contraction of an invasive European flora.

This title is also available on the compilation What Was Always Yours and Never Lost.

Kindah, 2016

The Diaspora Suite

Language Lessons entwines the search for the fountain of youth with the dream of a common language. The fountain both promises and frustrates eternity, while this dream offers hope for common ground. The lessons, made vivid by watery, elemental images and multiple voices, suggest that communication remains at the limits of our imagination.

Music by Pamela Z.

Sections 1-30 of an incomplete extended poem describing the artist's connection to the radical black tradition. The completed poem will be formed of 180 sections.

"Lessons are all about constraints; they are thirty seconds, must feature a black figure, and I have rules about where to make cuts, how to edit sound, etc."
— Martine Syms in conversation with Aram Moshayedi, Mousse Magazine

Sections 31-60 of an incomplete extended poem describing the artist's connection to the radical black tradition. The completed poem will be formed of 180 sections.

"Lessons are all about constraints; they are thirty seconds, must feature a black figure, and I have rules about where to make cuts, how to edit sound, etc."
— Martine Syms in conversation with Aram Moshayedi, Mousse Magazine

“To take back the gold that was stolen from us – this is the object of our actions.”

Lettres du Voyant is a documentary-fiction about spiritism and technology in contemporary Ghana, which attempts to uncover some truths about a mysterious practice called "Sakawa" — internet scams mixed with voodoo magic. Tracing back the scammers’ stories to the times of Ghanaian independence, the film proposes Sakawa as a form of anti-neocolonial resistance. 

“Trying to think the revolution is like waking and trying to see the logic in a dream...”.

Incorporating appropriated television footage as artistic experimentation and social critique, Chilean artist Magaly Ponce retells a history of violence and repression from her point of view. Magnetic Balance is a self-portrait of the artist as a member of a generation she terms the "children of Pinochet." Recalling the circumstances surrounding the execution of a family friend in 1973 at the onset of the Pinochet dictatorship, Ponce reexamines her relationship to Chilean society.

The Diaspora Suite

Filmed on location in Salvador, Brazil (the last city in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw slavery) and Harlem, NY ( an international stronghold of the African Diaspora), Many Thousands Gone draws parallels between a summer afternoon on the streets of the two cities. A silent version of the film was given to jazz multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee to use an interpretive score. The final film is the combination of the images and McPhee’s real time “sight reading” of the score.

Combining collage and animation with an Asian-influenced soundtrack, images of women dancing sensually and devotional imagery, Matsushima Ondo compares religious devotion with sexual representation. The viewer is invited to make connections and recognize the irony in some of the similarities.

In this video, the artist tries to overcome the effects of distance, and reflects on geography represented in exile due to war, and on the psychological distance represented in each one’s approach to her womanhood. The video beautifully weaves personal images and audio recordings of a very intimate nature, binding the personal with the political.

Chief Waiwai recounts for his village the story of a trip he and a small entourage made to meet the Zo’é, a recently contacted group whom the Waiãpi “know” through video. Both groups speak Tupi dialects and share many cultural traditions, but the Zo’é are currently experiencing the phenomena of contact that the Waiãpi underwent 20 years ago. Waiãpi cameraman Kasiripinã illustrates the Waiwai’s account of the trip with video. The Zo’é afford their visitors the chance to re-encounter the way of life and wisdom of their ancestors.

Tanaka passionately evokes the loss of her mother by visually recreating the ominous and disempowering feeling of isolation that accompanies mourning. The tape enunciates the painful phases of grieving: the claustrophobic results of dealing with the inevitability of death, the transitional void where one is lost between the comfortable orientation of one’s world and Nothing, and the new sense of clarity where images from the past resurface from the abyss of forgetfulness.

The film-essay Mined Soil revisits the work of the Guinean agronomist Amílcar Cabral, who studied soil erosion in the Alentejo region of Portugal through the lens of his political engagement as a leader of the African Liberation Movement of the 1950s. This line of thought intertwines with documentation of an experimental gold mining site, now operated by a Canadian company located in the same Portuguese region once studied by Cabral.

Morayngava: the “design of things.” Yngiru: the box of the spirits, the films, just like xaman dreams. This is how the Asurini define video, which has just arrived in their village. After discovering that it is possible to store their images, the old men lament that they never stored images of their ancestors and decided to register the initiation of a xaman, a tradition threatened by new times.

Directed by Virginia Valadão and Regina Müller.

In Assurini with English subtitles.

In the case of Carlos Motta’s career, the impetus has always been on, not adhering to particular medium or a particular style, but rather using media as it becomes appropriate tell a story that has heretofore been stifled by dominant power structures. The technical variability of his work is only matched by its potential to generate conversation and discourse in the arenas of sexuality, gender, democracy and colonialism – usually as a conflux of all four through historical excavation.

My Father, 1975

In this classic personal elegy, Kubota mourns her father's death and recounts the last days of his life. Reflecting on Kubota's use of the video medium, the television emerges as the link between Kubota and her father, with the melodramatic crooning of Japanese pop singers providing a backdrop for Kubota's real-life tragedy.

This title is also available on Surveying the First Decade: Volume 1.

My Mother’s Place is an experimental documentary focusing on the artist’s mother, a third-generation Chinese-Trinidadian who at 80 still has vivid memories of a history lost or quickly disappearing. She conveys these with a storytelling style and a frankness that is distinctly West Indian. A tape about memory, oral history, and autobiography, My Mother’s Place interweaves interviews, personal narrative, home movies, and verité footage of the Caribbean to explore the formation of race, class, and gender under colonialism.

NOMADS at the 25 DOOR is presented in three chapters and based around a series of interviews between Finley and Mickey Yates, a 22-year-old woman serving a double life sentence in the Nevada Women’s Correctional Institution for the murder of her mother. Interweaving interview excerpts with footage of the upheaval in Eastern Europe, the tape explores the memory’s construction of an ephemeral homeland when a concrete one is lost, stolen or left behind.

Oued Nefifik: A Foreign Movie is an experimental narrative that incorporates an actual political situation. The film was shot in the immediate aftermath of violent repression following food riots in Casablanca, June 1981. It characterizes the experience of a political event for people outside of it. The point of view is that of an absurd and sympathetic character based on Jacques Tati’s Mr Hulot, who is distanced from the post-colonial milieu in which he finds himself.

This video proposes an ironic metaphor to grasp the follies of U.S. government action and inaction in Central America. The process of learning U.S. policy is similar to the process of a young child acquiring the principles of language. These dual senses of literacy operate on several levels, situating a child’s consciousness within the contradictions of history comments on the illusory innocence of childhood, and the unexamined, but real, guilt of the U.S. government, its supporters and clients.

Papapapa, 1997

An experimental video about immigration. Looking at the potato (which was first cultivated in Peru) Papapapá paints a picture of a vegetable that has traveled and been transformed—following the migrating potato North where it becomes the potato chip, the couch potato, and the french fry. Papapapá simultaneously follows another Peruvian in motion, the artist’s father, Augusto Rivera. The stories of the two immigrants, the potato and Papa Rivera, converge as Augusto becomes a Peruvian couch potato, sitting on an American sofa, eating potato chips and watching Spanish language television.

Pemp, 1988

Pemp traces the 25-year struggle of the Parakatêjê (Gavião) to maintain autonomy in the face of huge development projects in the south of Pará. From the initial recovery of their lands in 1957 through dealings with FUNAI in the 1970s and the appropriation of Brazil nut monopolies to their current negotiations with the government, Pemp shows the Parakatêjê’s most precious project; the preservation of their ceremonies and songs. The Kokrenum, chief and keeper of the group’s traditions, uses video to transmit them to future generations.