2017, Sat, Jul 08

Bodies of Fact: The Archive from Witness to Voice

With Filipa César, Grada Kilomba, Diana McCarty and Krista Belle Stewart, moderated by Denise Ryner

Krista Belle Stewart, Seraphine, Seraphine, digital video still, September 17, 1967. Image courtesy the artist.

Krista Belle Stewart, Seraphine, Seraphine, digital video still, September 17, 1967. Image courtesy the artist.

Institutionalization and positioning are conducted through the regulatory system of the archive and the document. In the film works shown, Filipa César, Grada Kilomba, Diana McCarty and Krista Belle Stewart shift the reading of archival footage from universal, political and cultural fact to one that imagines documents as extensions of private witnessing and embodied memory.

The artists in this program counter the historicizing of archival footage. They will join curator Denise Ryner to discuss how they address the material and aesthetic legacies of colonial encounters and decolonization through archival footage in their respective works. Can archival documents be diverted from their intended service to ethnographic practice, cultural regulation or national narratives?

Conakry (2013), directed by Filipa César, superimposes archival film, commissioned by the leader of Guinea-Bissau's independence movement, Amílcar Cabral, with the words of artist and writer, Grada Kilomba, and radio activist Diana McCarty, into a reflection on personal and cultural sovereignty. Thus, a journey through time, space and media unfolds. The film staged at Haus der Kulturen der Welt is a sequence shot on 16mm.

In Seraphine, Seraphine (2015) Krista Belle Stewart intermixes documentary footage of the artist's mother, Seraphine Stewart, in the moments of private memory and public inquiry that bookend her life as Canada's first Indigenous public health nurse and survivor of an oppressive system of cultural genocide, Canada's now defunct Indian Residential School Program. The senior Stewart appears in a 1967 documentary, in which she is profiled as a young nursing student, and in footage of her 2013 testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Filipa César is a filmmaker and artist who is concerned with the porous boundaries between the moving image and its reception, the fictional dimensions of the documentary, and the economies, politics, and poetics inherent to cinema praxis. Her ongoing work with the visual archives and critical filmmaking in Guinea-Bissau most recently resulted in a collaboration with Guinean filmmaker Sana na N'Hada entitled Spell Reel (2017), which was presented in the 2017 Berlinale Forum program. César is originally from Porto, Portugal and now lives and works in Berlin.

Grada Kilomba is a Berlin-based, Portuguese interdisciplinary artist and writer working on the themes of memory, trauma, race, gender and the “post-colonial condition.” She has presented her work internationally including most recently at documenta 14, 32a Bienal de São Paulo 2016, Art Basel 2016, Cape Town Art Fair, transmediale, Secession Museum Vienna. Through her artworks, Kilomba addresses what she terms “the colonial wound,” by exploring new formats to decolonize knowledge and narrative.

Diana McCarty lives and works in Berlin. She co-founded the renowned free artists' radio reboot.fm/88.4 FM, kotti.fm, the radia.fm cultural radio network and the faces-l international community for women in media. She was active in early netzkultur with nettime, metaforum and hackerspaces. She co-initiated the exhibition Nervous Systems. Quantified Life and the Social Question (2016) at HKW. McCarty collaborated with Filipa César and Grada Kilomba on the short film Conakry (2013), part of the ongoing Luta ca caba inda project, with which she continues to work.

Krista Belle Stewart’s work engages the complexities of archival material through processes that allow for both intimacy and coincidence, and the atemporal meeting of actors across time. Working with video, photography, design, ephemera and textiles, Stewart straddles the gaps between personal and institutional histories through transparent mediation. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and in the United States. Stewart lives and works in Vancouver, Canada on the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Supported by the British Columbia Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Embassy of Canada.