// An Answer Without A Question //
// 7:00 PM // Friday, April 6th 2018 //
// Woodland Pattern Book Center //
// 720 E Locust St Milwaukee, WI //
To The Nightingales (2017)
Kandis Friesen, 10 minutes 54 seconds, video
To The Nightingales is a filmic collage, an audio-visual poetics emerging from a rhythmic anterior space. Moving through found footage from early handheld films, the video transports the viewer into another realm, absorbed in darkness and washed in light. Documenting the artistic practices of the artist’s grandmother, the textured sound and image become a rumination on materiality, of covert ground, of birth and death, of tending, constructing, and holding – an abstract list of things one cannot contain.
The film is the first in an emerging series of videos centered on the unrecognized art practices of women in my family. From installation and sculpture to textile works and conceptual writing practices, each visual text hones in on a work, approach, or wider practice of a barely-legible artist, whose diasporic perspectives are grounded in the experience of shifting geographies and temporalities, war and occupation, diasporic translation, and intergenerational materiality.
Kandis Friesen’s work is anchored in diasporic language, dispersed translations, and disintegrating archival forms. Drawing on Russian Mennonite, Ukrainian, and former Soviet geographies, her interdisciplinary compositions build from the architectural, material, and spectral inhabitations of exile, amplifying minute and myriad histories at once. Her work has been exhibited and screened at LUX, Images Festival, Jihlava Film Festival, FIFA, Athens Digital Arts Festival, MIX NYC, Traverse Vidéo, and VIVO Media Arts, among others. Her videos are distributed by Groupe Intervention Vidéo in Montréal.
Kwaku Ananse (2013)
Akosua Adoma Owusu, 25 minutes 52 seconds, video
Drawing upon the rich mythology of Ghana, this magical short film combines semi-autobiographical elements from the filmmaker's life with local folklore to tell a spellbinding story of a young American woman who returns to West Africa for her father’s funeral, only to discover his hidden double identity.
Kwaku Ananse is a traditional West African fable about a being that is part man and part spider, who spends years collecting all wisdom of the world in a wooden pot. As he tries to hide the pot in a tree, he can’t find a way to place it high up in its branches. When his little son, Ntikuma shows him the way, Kwaku Ananse becomes so angered, he throws the pot down onto the ground. It bursts and the wisdom seeps away. Everyone rushes over, hoping to salvage what they can.
Nyan Koronhwea returns to her father Kwaku Ananse's native Ghana for his funeral. They had lost contact with each other a long time ago. She has mixed feelings about her father’s double life with one family in Ghana and another in the United States. Overwhelmed by the funeral, she retreats to the spirit world in search for Kwaku Ananse. She carries her ambivalence with her into the forest, where she learns the ultimate truth about all human relationships.
Akosua Adoma Owusu (1984) is a Ghanaian-American filmmaker, producer and cinematographer whose films address the collision of identities. Interpreting the notion of "double consciousness" coined by sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois to define the experience of black Americans negotiating a sense of selfhood in the face of discrimination and cultural dislocation, Owusu aims to create a third cinematic space or consciousness. In her works, feminism, queerness and African identities interact in African, white American, and black American cultural environments. Owusu's films have screened internationally in festivals like Rotterdam, Locarno, Toronto, New Directors/New Films (New York) and the BFI London Film Festival. Her work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Fowler Museum and the Indiana University Bloomington, home of the Black Film Center/Archive. She was featured artist of the 56th Robert Flaherty Seminar. In 2015, she was named by IndieWire as one of 6 preeminent Avant-Garde Female Filmmakers Who Redefined Cinema. She divides her time between Ghana and New York, where she works as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Echoists of the Takase River (2016)
Ananda Serné, 3 minutes 16 seconds, HD video
In science, the word sounding means: 'to study the underwater depth of lake or ocean floors by transmitting sound pulses into water'. Data taken from soundings are used to map the seafloor, an area that is still largely unknown to human beings. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary sounding can also mean: a probe, a test, or sampling of opinion or intention. Like a bat exploring its surroundings by sending out a signal and listening to the echo in order to find out what’s there.
During a 2.5 month residency in Japan, I explored the meaning of the word sounding and drew a parallel with the Japanese word kodama. Kodama can be translated into English as echo, but is in Japanese folklore also known as a phenomenon that reverberates sounds in mountains and valleys. Spoken words reflected against the landscape are thought to be kodama, trees that are answering.
Late in the 1970s, three dams were built along the course of the Takase river in Nagano Prefecture. Echoists of the Takase River focuses on the vegetation around one of these dams. A Japanese sign language interpreter signs the word kodama, while a group of echoists shout both the names of plants and trees that died during the construction of the dam, as well as the names of pioneer species that were the first to colonize the previously disrupted land.
Ananda Serné (1988) holds an MA in Fine Arts from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in Reykjavík. Recent exhibitions and screenings include: Høstutstillingen, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo; Studio 17, Stavanger, Norway; Tenderflix International Film and Video Prize, Tenderpixel, London; Gerdarsafn Kópavogur Art Museum, Iceland; Antimatter Media Art, Canada and Stuttgarter Filmwinter, Germany. She attended various residencies, including Villa Ruffieux in Switzerland and Asahi AIR in Japan.
Together Apart (2017)
Sama Alshaibi, 2 minutes 10 seconds, video
courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery
"Together Apart" features a singular body alternating between receiving and removing garlands of flowers from her shoulders. Garlands are tokens of love and blessings to either welcome or bid farewell. The most common concept of a garland is a wreath of flowers presented to a person upon arriving or leaving– they are placed over the head and onto the shoulders of a traveler by their loved ones. As such, the action performs the gratitude or regret bore through transition. In “Together Apart" the protagonist is solely responsible for this universal ritual of reverence, indicating that through her migrations, she is alone. Multiple journeys are signaled by the receiving of yet another chain of flowers– she struggles to shed herself from them, and their trappings. The presentation of the sea with her body alternates from states of submersion or serves as a backdrop, suggesting her physical and psychological alienation with location. The ritual concludes with her body fully overwhelmed and obscured by the cascading garlands. While she is physically present, her isolation is absolute. The markings of her identity disappear, leaving her buried under the burden of displacement.
“Together Apart” is a personal reflection of my own history as a refugee. With each new country I migrated to, I lost and gained components of myself. With each country I left, there were less and less people to say goodbye to. Which is to say, there was also no one to receive my hello.
Palestinian-Iraqi artist Sama Alshaibi (b. Basra, Iraq, 1973), now a naturalized US citizen, works in photography, video and installation to explore spaces of conflict and the power struggles that arise in the aftermath of war and exile. Alshaibi’s monograph, “Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In” (New York: Aperture, 2015) presents her “Silsila” series, which probes the human dimensions of migration, borders, and environmental demise. “Silsila” was exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale, Honolulu Biennial, Qalandia International Biennial, Marta Herford Museum of Art (Germany) and solo exhibitions at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (AZ, 2016), and the Johnson Museum of Art (Cornell University, NY, 2017). Alshaibi has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Bronx Museum (NYC), Arab American National Museum (Michigan), FotoFest Biennial (Houston), Tucson Museum of Art, Museum De Wieger (Netherlands), HilgerBROTKunsthalle (Vienna), CCS Bard Hessel Museum & Galleries (Bard College, NYC), Headlands Center for the Arts (California), Institut Du Monde Arabe (Paris), Maraya Art Center (UAE), Ayyam Gallery (London/Dubai), Thessaloniki International Film Festival (Greece) and 24th Instants Video Festival (Mexico and France). She received a Fulbright Scholars Fellowship to the West Bank, Palestine (2014-2015) and titled University of Arizona’s ‘1885 Distinguished Scholar’, where she is Professor of Photography.
Les montagnes invisibles (Invisible mountains) (2017)
Aliénor Vallet, 14 minutes, video
An image appears and leads us in a trip at the boundaries of reality and invisible …
Les montagnes invisibles (Invisible mountains) relates an uncertain trip through the Andes suggesting a reflection on the look and the image as perception, construction, imagination and memory of space and time. In this essay inspired by the book Invisible cities by Italo Calvino, the doubted reality questions the dimension of the visible and the invisible and the relation between the viewer and the image.
Born in Paris, Aliénor Vallet has directed fews documentaries in Africa. For the last 10 years, she develops video works between experimental film, videodance, video art, essay, documentary and video installations and also collaborations with multidisciplinary artists. She is the artistic director of ARTVODEO LAB in Paris and the curator of the festival Les irrécupérables.