Soil is History
The three films in this artist cinema touring programme by artists Louis Henderson and Filipa César propose that colonialism didn’t vanish but simply went underground; that it is no longer land that’s acquired and exploited by colonisers, but the mineral resources within the soil itself.
As Henderson’s Lettres du Voyant shows, technology has also empowered former colonial subjects in Ghana to seek reparations for gold stolen in the first ‘rush for Africa’, on their own terms and in their own way.
Lettres du Voyant
Louis Henderson / France / 2013 / 40 minutes
Lettres du Voyant is a documentary-fiction about spiritism and technology in contemporary Ghana that attempts to uncover some truths about a mysterious practice called ‘Sakawa’ – internet scams mixed with voodoo magic. Tracing the scammers’ stories back to the times of Ghanaian independence, the film proposes Sakawa as a form of neocolonial resistance.
The film takes the form of a voyage through a network of digitised mine shafts leading the viewer to each of the film’s locations: a gold mine, an e-waste dump, a voodoo ritual or a discotheque, for example.
A character recounts a story through reading a series of letters written to the film’s author – letters that speak about the colonial history of Ghana, of gold, of technology.
Filipa César / Portugal/France / 2015 / 30 minutes
This filmed performance by Filipa César sees her investigate the work of a mining operation, probing both rock strata and the hidden depths of colonialism.
All That is Solid
Louis Henderson / France / 2014 / 15 minutes
Set on a computer laptop, All That is Solid is an exploration of the ways we use technology to distance ourselves from economic and human realities.
Filmed in the Agbogbloshie electronic waste ground in Accra and illegal gold mines of Ghana, the film sets out to dispel the capitalist myth of the immateriality of new technology – thus revealing the mineral weight with which the Cloud is grounded in its earthly origins.
About the artists
Louis Henderson is a filmmaker whose works investigate the networked links between colonialism, technology, capitalism and history. A graduate of London College of Communication and Le Fresnoy, Henderson is currently completing a post-diplôme within an experimental art and research group at the European School of Visual Arts. He has shown his work at festivals internationally, including International Film Festival Rotterdam; CPH:DOX; Transmediale; the Kiev Biennial 2015; and the Centre Pompidou. In 2015 he was the recipient of the Barbara Aronofsky Latham Award for Emerging Video Artist at the 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival, USA.
Filipa César studied at the Faculty of Arts in Porto and Lisbon (1996–99), the Academy of Arts in Munich (1999–2000) and took an MA Art in Context, University of Arts, Berlin (2007). Her work reflects on the porous nature of the relationship between the moving image and its public reception.
She has exhibited, among other places, at Istanbul Biennial, 2003; Kunsthalle Wien, 2004; Serralves Museum, 2005; Locarno International Film Festival, 2005; CAG- Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, 2006; Tate Modern, 2007; St. Gallen Museum, 2007; International Triennale of Contemporary Art, Prague, 2008; SF MOMA, San Francisco 2009, 12th Architecture Biennial, Venice, 29th São Paulo Biennial 2010, São Paulo and Manifesta 8, Cartagena. She lives and works in Berlin.
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