In 1871, the poet Arthur Rimbaud declared in a letter ‘je est une autre’ [I is an other] – a statement which has been widely influential in subsequent understandings of the modern Western subject as fragmented, distributed and open to the other. Rimbaud saw the poet or artist as having special qualities of vision and creativity based on the dissolution of the self. A little over one hundred years later Caribbean poet and philosopher Edouard Glissant articulated a more complex, relational and worlded vision of identity as the basis for human creativity. Glissant called for a poetics of relation where identities are multiple, creolised and global. The ‘I’ becomes ‘we’.
The video works selected for this program reflect the transition from individualised subjectivities and modes of creation characteristic of the heritage of artistic modernism towards a new way of seeing the contemporary world of images. This way of seeing revolves around the decentering of the Eurocentric, extractive, (white) male gaze and the traces the disorder that lies just beneath the surface of the ever expanding circulation of images in global neoliberal capitalism.
Although these works have very different genealogies, methods and artistic intentions, collectively they explore and play with patterns, resonances, code, rhythms, scientific worldviews, algorithms and archives in ways that disrupt colonial vision and colonial time.
Monica de Miranda’s works (Red Horizon and All the Burns (2020)) stage a poetic and lyrical reflection on how the ghosts of Portuguese and European colonialism haunt the landscapes and architectures of postcolonial territories.
Alia Syed’s film On a Wing and a Prayer (2016) is inspired by the remarkable story of Abdul Rahman Haroun, who walked through the channel tunnel from France to England in 2015. In the film Syed performs an act of artistic solidarity by filming with cameras attached to her body as she walks through the Rotherhithe Tunnel.
Finally, Dutch artist Remy Jungerman’s short film BROOS (2022) is a sonic and visual collage of photographs and archive film footage of ancestral worship rituals held by Bakabusi descendants on the Rorac plantation in Suriname, the artist’s homeland. The film and soundtrack by jazz composer Jason Moran create a moving elegy to the poetics of resistance of maroon communities in the ex-Dutch colony.