Post-colonialism

In 1972 Eric Siegel, an early pioneer of video art, set out on an extreme adventure driving from Europe six thousand miles overland to India. He was one of the first people to use the revolutionary new technology from Sony Corporation, the Portapak. This was the first small portable video camera/recorder combo that was the predecessor of today’s camcorders. Together with his friend Anthony they documented the trip. This video is the portion of the trip that took them through Afghanistan, one of the most exotic places along the way.

aletheia, 1992

The introductory title to The Blindness Series, aletheia presents an indexing of categories investigating different aspects of blindness as metaphor. Stylistic preference for the techniques and conventions of MTV, and American Television in general, provides the means to create connections among the categories of cosmetic surgery, sexuality, technology, language, hysterical blindness, and actual blindness.

This title is also available on Tran, T. Kim Trang: The Blindness Series.

“All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

— Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1848

amaurosis, 2002

amaurosis is an experimental documentary about Dat Nguyen, a blind guitarist living in Little Saigon, Orange County, California. Dat Nguyen was a "triple outcast": blind, Amerasian, and an impoverished orphan. His American father left Viet Nam in 1973, and his mother died in 1975. Living on the streets of Saigon, he sold lottery tickets for food money. At the age of 12, Dat met a classical music teacher who was also blind and who taught him to read Braille as well as supported him.

The Diaspora Suite

Oscillating between a street festival in Philadelphia, the slave forts and capitol city of Ghana, and the New Jersey shore, American Hunger explores the relationship between personal experience and collective histories. American fantasies confront African realities. African realities confront America fantasies.

A significant amount of the hand-drawn animation seen on television today is cartooned in sweatshop-like animation factories in Korea, China, and the Philippines. The writers and animators who form Animaquiladora sharpened their skills in one such factory located in Tijuana, Mexico. After years of animating logos for the American talk show Regis and Kathie Lee, Lalo Lopez and Alex Rivera escaped from the hellish sweatshop of Tijuana to seek better lives in Los Angeles and New York.

Cacheu, 2012

Cacheu is a 10-minute shot of a lecture, performed by Joana Barrios, revolving around four colonial statues, which are stored today at the Fortress of Cacheu, one of the first bastions constructed by the Portuguese in 1588 in order to facilitate slave trade in the West African country of Guinea Bissau. Barrios evokes symbolic conflicts by tracing back different contexts in which the statues make an appearance: on a pedestal during Portuguese colonialism, dethroned and broken in pieces after Independence in the film Sans Soleil by Chris Marker, as background ghosts in Mortu Nega by Flora Gomes, and finally displayed at the Cacheu fort. The montage is a process that takes place before shooting, so that the image production is a result of a performative assemblage between text, acting, projected image and the framing of the camera by the director of photography, Matthias Biber.

Veronica Majano depicts the character of a street in the Mission District of San Francisco. This street is personified as a fifteen year old Salvadoran/Ohlone girl on a search to understand the changes brought on by colonization, dislocation, and more recently, gentrification. Tracing the history of the Mission from its first residents, the Ohlone Indians, Chula explores the effects of re-colonization on memory and memory loss. For Chula, memory loss is a birthmark that was passed down to her from her ancestors.

Conakry, 2013

Staged at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Conakry is a sequence shot on 16mm film that travels through time, space and media to revisit one film reel from the Guinean archive. This particular reel documents an exhibition curated by Amílcar Cabral at the Palais du Peuple in 1972 in Conakry, Guinea, reporting on the state of the war against Portuguese rule. César invited the Portuguese writer Grada Kilomba and the American radio activist Diana McCarty to reflect on these images and their history.

This video takes its departure from the BBC's coverage of the killing of three IRA volunteers by British Security Forces in Strabane, a small town on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Interrogating television discourse, the video examines what is referred to as the British “shoot to kill” policy of planned assassination in the North.

Uncomfortable journeys through the work and ideas of Christopher Cozier, a leading contemporary artist in the Caribbean. The video presents Cozier's witty and incisive drawings, installations and videos in the context of post-independence Trinidad with its oil-rich economy, complicated ethnic politics, and vibrant cultural forms.

Water and oil form the undercurrents of all narrations as they activate profound changes in the planetary ecology. After the oil peak, ever dirtier, remote and deeper layers of fossil resources are being accessed. Aerial recording of the devastated crust in Alberta opens the view into dark lubricant geologies. Climate change, exasperated by projects such as the Canadian tar sands, puts the life of large world populations in danger.

The Embassy deals with the codes of representation used by the former Portuguese colonial power over the West African country Guinea-Bissau, and with modes of memory production. It shows a photo album depicting the perspective of the Portuguese colonist, who photographed with documentary diligence landscapes, people, architecture and monuments in Guinea-Bissau in the 1940s and 1950s.

In this interview, African American filmmaker and DJ Ephraim Asili (b. 1979) discusses his upbringing, education, and creative process. Born and raised around the city limit of Philadelphia, Asili’s childhood and adolescence were imbued with hip hop music, Hollywood movies and television. He studied film at Temple University where he finished his thesis project, the documentary Points on a Space Age (2007) with the Sun Ra Arkestra.

Fences Make Senses re-stages and interrogates international barriers and borders using the bodies of non-refugees. Through a series of rehearsals, Barber aims to have privileged bodies experience the themes, situations, and ideas that refugees frequently face. This video was produced in response to the great number of documentaries the artist witnessed that interviewed the unfortunate in their impoverished conditions. Kept in limbo and squalor for years, these refugees are casually disliked by their "host" country.

Fluid Frontiers is the fifth and final film in the series entitled The Diaspora Suite, exploring Asili’s personal relationship to the African Diaspora. Shot along the Detroit River, Fluid Frontiers explores the relationship between concepts of resistance and liberation, exemplified by the Underground Railroad, Broadside Press, and artworks of local Detroit Artists.

Over 6,000 gold prospectors invade the reserve of the Nambiquara of Sararé, and loggers raid the mahogany-rich forests, which are threatened by extinction. Pressure on the World Bank (with whom the government of Mato Grosso is negotiating a loan) could end prospecting, but the pillage of the forest continues.

In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Directed by Vincent Carelli, Maurizio Longobardi, and Virginia Valadão; edited by Tutu Nunes.

In this 2014 interview, South African artist Kendell Geers (b. 1968) discusses the function of magic, myth, and memory in his work. Beginning at childhood, Geers charts the path he has taken in his understanding of his own biography as a site of resistance. This interest in the use of personal biography culminated in 1993 with his decision to change his date of birth to May 1968 as a way to reference both the May 1968 student protests, and the fact that 1993 was the first year that South Africa had participated in the Venice Biennale since 1968.

"i am very grateful that my 鬼鎮 (Ghosttown) series has shown internationally over the last couple years and is recognized by viewers, reviewers, critics, and curators as doing decolonizing work as a feminist project that queers and glitches the Western genre. 鬼鎮 (Ghosttown) questions the quintessentially American Western in the forms of experimental films and games that are made from glitches and noise, pushing boundaries of legibility and tipping over threshold states of stability.

Chief Pedro Mãmãindê (who directed the proceedings and the shoot itself) describes the necessity of strengthening the girls of his village by secluding them after their first menses. After several months, the village throws a party, with singing, feasting, and the ritual abduction of the girl by an allied village. When the Nambiquara of Mato Grosso see videotape of themselves performing this ritual, the excess of Western clothing makes them uncomfortable. The ritual is then re-enacted with traditional body painting and adornment.

Louis Henderson’s work focuses on anti-colonialism and criticizing the neocolonialisation of cyberspace.  Born in England in 1983, he graduated from London College of Communication and Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains. He recently finished a post-diplôme at the European School of Visual Arts.

A search for a non-existent image, a desire to create an image where there is none,“ leads to Rea Tajiri’s composition on recorded history and non-recorded memory. Framed by the haunting facts of the post-Pearl Harbor Japanese internment camps (which dislocated 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II), Tajiri creates a version of her family’s story through interviews and historical detail, remembering a time that many people would rather forget.

Home Movies Gaza introduces us to the Gaza Strip as a mircrocosm for the failure of civilization. In an attempt to describe the everyday of a place that struggles for the most basic of human rights, this video claims a perspective from within the domestic spaces of a territory that is complicated, derelict, and altogether impossible to separate from its political identity.

"... Basma Alsharif’s Home Movies Gaza, a film that captures the impossibly politicized domestic sphere of the Gaza Strip, under the constant hum and buzz of overhead drones."

Hostage: The Bachar Tapes (English Version) is an experimental documentary about "The Western Hostage Crisis." The crisis refers to the abduction and detention of Westerners like Terry Anderson, and Terry Waite in Lebanon in the 80s and early 90s by "Islamic militants." This episode directly and indirectly consumed Lebanese, U.S., French, and British political and public life, and precipitated a number of high-profile political scandals like the Iran-Contra affair in the U.S.

Adapted from psychologist A.R. Luria’s research in the Islamic outskirts of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, How to Fix the World brings to life Luria's conversations with Central Asian farmers learning how to read and write under the unfamiliar principles of Socialism.

Colorful digital animations based on Max Penson's photographs of collective farmers play against a backdrop of landscape images shot in Uzbekistan in 2004.