26th February 2011 – 17th April 2011
review: Friday 25 February 2011, 6.30-9pm
Foreword to Guns for Banta is the first UK solo show by Paris-based artist Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc. The exhibition follows Abonnenc’s two-month residency at Gasworks.
Foreword to Guns for Banta introduces the public to the work of Sarah Maldoror, a pioneering yet little known French filmmaker of Guadeloupean origin, whose films are closely linked to the liberation struggles in lusophone Africa. Using her films as a catalyst for his research, Abonnenc aims to question how to approach images of past revolutionary moments and to reactivate the spirit and unifying character of the liberation movements.
Consisting of a diaporama and a selection of archival documents, the exhibition at Gasworks focuses on the lost film Guns for Banta (1970), the first feature-length film by Sarah Maldoror. Shot in Guinea-Bissau, Guns for Banta follows the life and untimely death of Awa, a countrywoman involved in the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Parallel to this semi-fictional narrative, the film offers rarely seen images of the involvement of women and children in the struggle.
Financed by the Algerian army, which hoped to turn it into a propaganda tool, the film was confiscated from Maldoror because of her demands for full control over the editing. To this day the reels have not been identified or returned. What remains of Guns for Banta are a collection of photographs taken by war photographers during the filming and fragmented memories of Sarah Maldoror, collected by Abonnenc over two years of conversations with the filmmaker.
As a retrospective foreword to an absent film, the diaporama tells the story of the artist’s search for Guns for Banta and explores the figures of the militant, the filmmaker and the photographer, examining their respective functions in the making of a revolution. Speaking from these various positions, the voice-over highlights the relationship between revolution and cultural production in the context of the decolonisation of Africa. The juxtaposition of archival images, texts and the artist’s reading of the material propose a reflection on the afterlife of the militant image.
Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc (born in 1977 in French Guiana), lives and works in Paris. Selected exhibitions include: Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain (2010); Watchmen, Liars, Dreamers, Frac Ile-de-France/Le Plateau (2010); Seconde-Main, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2010); À Contre-Corps / Countering the Body, Frac Lorraine (2009); A prey made of space and shadow, Galerie de Expeditie, Amsterdam (2008, solo show). In 2010, Abonnenc curated the group exhibition Self as Disappearance at Synagogue de Delme, France.
Curated by Anna Colin
Wednesday 23 February, 8pm
An Evening with Sarah Maldoror
At Ciné Lumière
Two films by Sarah Maldoror will be screened – Monangambéee (1969) and Sambizanga (1972) – following which, a discussion with the film director and Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc will take place.
Saturday 26 February, 3-6pm
The Russian Connection
Kodwo Eshun, Jeremy Hicks and Ros Gray lead a visual discussion about the cinematographic training of Sarah Maldoror and her African peers in Soviet Russia.