Artist Cinemas

École du soir

Convened by
Christian Nyampeta

With Kivu Ruhorahoza, Rahima Gambo, Philbert Aimé Mbabazi, Amelia Umuhire, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, and Wanuri Kahiu in conversation with Natacha Nsabimana, Ogemdi Ude, Aïcha Diallo, Yasmina Price, Andros Zins-Browne, and Shariffa Ali

It is almost obsolete to mention that the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus has created a crisis, a word that refers to a crossroad, or more accurately, to the lack thereof. What started as a health crisis has created an absence of an outside—it is not easy to imagine an exile from the current tension. “Usually,” during a militarized conflict, one tries to flee to a neighboring country. But where can one escape a pandemic? In contrast, this current totality is implanted in the word pandemic itself: pan (all) demos (people). This panoramic dimension compels us to connect the plural experiences of this pandemic with other crises that now seem located in past times and remote places such as Rwanda, but are actually still shifting the way the world thinks and sees itself.

At the same time, the past weeks have accelerated the widening of the already large digital divide between regions and art institutions that can pivot to a larger online presence, and those regions, histories, and times that are not able to do so.

Which is why it is more urgent than ever to start “a linking of phrases,” so that, as depicted in some of the selected films, those phrases from times that seem distant from the screen and the places that may feel remote from the engines of global communication may come into dialog with those who now live solely online, as as is the case in much of New York.

Presented a week each, the following six films are not direct points of comparison to the current crisis but reflection devices that draw from localized specificities and historical events, in order to make a linking with the pandemic. The sense of isolation, alienation, and despair felt today finds echoes in these films, as their makers navigate the afterlives of the crises that still shape their present. Effectively, although the geographic and economic scales of the current pandemic are unprecedented, the films bring home the fact that some members of the societies in which the films are located feel or have felt as though their existence is a form of quarantine, characterized long before this moment by trans-generational trauma, the disappearance of habitable environments, exile, and even genocidal brutalities that take away the ability to mourn. Each film is accompanied by a newly commissioned dialog that loosely relates the film to the ongoing pandemic.

This program is an iteration of “École du soir” or the evening school, a multiform hosting structure for collective thinking, action, and reflection convened by artist Christian Nyampeta. It expands upon the idea of Senegalese film director and novelist Sembène Ousmane, who considered cinema to be an “evening school” informed by orality, sensuality, and conviviality within the realm of art learning and making in his region, as well as by the visual and textual histories, social struggles, and hopes, in mutuality between his own locality and the world at large. An evening is a moment of suspension, a sanatorium of time, as it awaits the resolution of celestial forces. It is neither day nor night: it is a rapid standstill and in it reverberates the current conditions of “our” quarantine.

Six Films, from Rwanda and Beyond is a program convened by Christian Nyampeta as part of Artist Cinemas, a long-term, online series of film programs curated by artists for e-flux Video & Film. École du soir will run from April 29 through June 9, 2020, with each film running for one week and featuring an interview with the filmmaker by an invited guest.

Artist Christian Nyampeta convenes the Nyanza Working Group of Another Roadmap School. His recent solo exhibitions include École du soir at SculptureCenter in New York; A Flower Garden of All Kinds of Loveliness Without Sorrow at the Museum of Contemporary Art GfZK in Leipzig, co-commissioned with Contour Biennale 9 in Mechelen, and co-produced with Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels, Perdu Amsterdam, and Wilfried Lentz Gallery in Rotterdam; and Words after the World at Camden Arts Centre in London. He contributed to the 5th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2019; the Dakar Biennial 2018; and the 11th Gwangju Biennial in 2016. Nyampeta runs Radius, an online and occasionally inhabitable radio station, and he completed a PhD in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. He was awarded The Art Prize Future of Europe 2019 at the Museum of Contemporary Art GfZK in Leipzig, and the European Union Prize at the 12th Bamako Encounters—African Biennial of Photography.

Video Art, Documentary, Africa, Diaspora, Covid-19, Trauma
Return to Artist Cinemas

Christian Nyampeta is an artist, filmmaker, and researcher living in New York, and working in London, the Netherlands, and Rwanda where he convenes the Nyanza Working Group of the Another Roadmap African Cluster (ARAC). In New York Nyampeta sits on the Board of Directors at Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, and he is on the board of November magazine. Nyampeta holds a PhD in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths completed under the supervision of Kodwo Eshun, following the examination of Leela Gandhi and Denise Ferreira da Silva.


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