Un-Documented: Unlearning Imperial Plunder

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay

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Ariela Aïsha Azoulay, Un-Documented: Unlearning Imperial Plunder (still), 2019.

e-flux presents Me, You, and Everyone We Know Un-Documented: Unlearning Imperial Plunder
Ariella Aïsha Azoulay

36 Minutes

August 4–18, 2021

Join us on e-flux Video & Film for an online screening of Ariela Aïsha Azoulay’s Un-Documented: Unlearning Imperial Plunder (2019), streaming from Wednesday, August 4 through Tuesday, August 17, 2021.

Un-Documented argues—against Alain Resnais and Chris Marker’s film Statues Also Die (1963)—that statues plundered from imperial exhibitions do not die. Those who plundered millions of statues and objects, isolating them from their communities, should be charged with the attempted murder of these objects. The objects, however, survived and still stand alert, even when they are confined to museal glass cases, awaiting reunion with their people. Un-Documentedargues that there is a strong connection between the plundered objects in European museums and the calls of asylum seekers trying to enter the countries of their former European colonizers: these are twin migrations. The first migration is of the objects, generating professional care, scrupulous documentation, and generous hospitality in museums and archives: they are the (relatively) well-documented. The second migration is of people who do not have the documents that would allow them access to care and hospitality, nor the documents they need to rebuild their homes and worlds. As the film argues, the rights of the undocumented are inscribed in the plundered objects themselves: Colonizers stole not just statues, but rights inscribed in objects. Yet, the statues still live—and can be reclaimed and the rights inscribed in them renewed.

Un-Documented: Unlearning Imperial Plunder is presented here as one of six films in Part Four | Frames for Alterity (Ethnography, Human Rights, Class, and Race), the final of four programs in the online series Me, You, and Everyone We Know: Interrelationality, Alterity, Globalization programmed by Irmgard Emmelhainz for e-flux Video & Film. The series will run in four thematic parts from June 23 through August 18, 2021. Each part will include a two-week group screening, and a live discussion. The series concludes with a repeat of all films from parts one through four on August 18.

For more information, contact program [​at​] e-flux.com.

Museums, Colonialism & Imperialism, Migration & Immigration, Film
Object-Oriented Philosophies, Decolonization, Autonomy, Refugees
Return to Part Four | Frames for Alterity (Ethnography, Human Rights, Class, and Race)

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay teaches political thought and visual culture at Brown University.


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