Peopleʼs Stories ‒ Past and Present:
Bridging the silenced and liminal spaces of African imagery
Research Project | Visual Contributions | Exhibition Formats | Public & Online Debates | Rights and Restitution symposium | Mapping | Podcast | Screenings | Ecole du Soir
“People’s Stories- Past and Present: Bridging the silenced and liminal spaces of African Imagery” is a multi-disciplinary art and culture project taking place in two editions: Senegal (2022) and Morocco (2023). The project brings together archive researchers, artists and filmmakers to interpret, rethink and re appropriate the archive. Engaging with the archive is not to simply delve into history and memory in order to look backwards but rather to use that past knowledge – the bits we can unearth of it – as a tool to reinterpret our current reality and reimagine an alternative future. The current debates on restitution open a gap that requires research and appropriation of images that have been silenced and disconnected from their lineage. Thus, engaging artistically with images and sounds of our past is a formula to help us design a new grammar in order to revisit and re-write history from a Southern perspective.
COLLABORATION is proposed as a possible tool for restoring the interrupted and severed connections between the generations and the geographies of Africa, including the artificial schism between the South and the North of the African continent . THE PERSPECTIVE is inherently from the South seeking to invert the gaze that captured the images and held them hostage. RESTITUTION and the decolonization of the image is the building site of multiple intersecting pathways attempting to reconnect official History (both colonial and post-colonial) with people’s Memory. The role of the artist’s memory in making or re-making the archive is fundamental, for who else is better placed to ensure an uninterrupted chain of social and political memory translating of yesteryear’s legacy into today’s vocabulary.
Interconnections between the peoples on the African continent are age old and often forgotten; How do we restore spaces of cultural harmony that go beyond colonial borders to bridge the artificial divide between the South and the North of the African continent? Can commonalities and shared histories be resurrected through interrogating multiple formats of archive? This program attempts to do so through Senegal and Morocco as a starting point since the 2 countries have shared uninterrupted connections since the 16th century‒ the relations albeit turbulent ‒ are anchored in cultural and trade exchange dating back to the Saʼadi dynasty.
This multiplicity of telling a single tale from various vantage points inspires the multiple formats that will be exhibited in both Europe and Africa . The exhibitions will be followed by a multidisciplinary debate on questions of restitution, decolonization and contextualization of archives which will be conducted within the framework of a Symposium held as a module within DOX BOX’s Documentary Convention.
The program is divided into 3 phases within each country:
The first phase invites archive researchers to interact critically with the archive including how to collect and use it. Mapping the findings, logging and indexing existing material will be an ongoing process culminating in the launch of a dedicated website “Mapping the Archive” at the end of the 2-year program.
The second phase is organised as an Agora where researchers, filmmakers ,visual artists, performers and musicians engage with locally found archival material of all formats. A series of public lectures, podcasts and performances are proposed . This collaborative phase aims to pin down what each of the artists wishes to produce for the following phase of the program.
The third phase is centred around exhibitions of the artworks, performances and visual contributions both in our 2 hub countries (Senegal and Morocco) as well as in partner institutions around Europe. The final event of the program is a 3-day symposium on questions of restitution, decolonization and contextualization of archives which will be proposed as a Module within DOX BOX’s annual Documentary Convention.