African Film Institute: Sosena Solomon, Mpho Matsipa, Natacha Nsabimana

June 10, 2024 00:30:54

A conversation between filmmaker Sosena Solomon, designer and urban scholar/theorist Mpho Matsipa, and anthropologist Natacha Nsabimana. 

This episode was recorded at e-flux Screening Room before a screening of Merkato, curated by Natacha Nsabimana. Sosena Solomon’s Merkato is a documentary tracing the lives of four people as they navigate the demands of life and work in one of the biggest markets in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Filmed on location in Merkato, before a radical architectural transformation, Solomon’s documentary invites us to ask expansive questions about space, architecture, transition, and preservation.

Sosena Solomon is an Ethiopian-American social documentary film and multimedia visual artist whose work explores cross-sections of various subcultures and communities in flux, carefully teasing out cultural nuances and capturing personal narratives through arresting visual storytelling. Solomon has worked for many years in the commercial and nonprofit sectors as a director and cinematographer on many short film projects, including Dreaming of Jerusalem, a Discovery-plus original documentary about the Ethiopian-Jewish community in Gondar, and Merkato. She has exhibited work at the Sundance Film Festival, Cinema Africa, Tribeca, and DOC NYC. She earned her BA in Television Production from Temple University and her MFA in Social Documentary film from the School of Visual Arts. Solomon is currently lecturing in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design, and working with the Metropolitan Museum of Art to create new digital and in-gallery content that will reframe the Museum’s African art galleries.

Mpho Matsipa is an educator, researcher, and independent curator.  Matsipa holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, pursued as a Fulbright Scholar. She has curated several exhibitions, discursive platforms, and experimental architectural research including the Venice International Architecture Biennale (2008; 2021); African Mobilities at the Architecture Museum, Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich (2018); and Studio-X Johannesburg, in South Africa (2014–16). Her curatorial and research interests are at the intersection of urban studies, experimental architecture, and visual art. Mpho is an associate curator for the Lubumbashi Biennale, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2024) and she teaches History and Theory at SCI-Arc.

Natacha Nsabimana teaches in the anthropology department at the university of Chicago. Her research and teaching interests include postcolonial critique, musical movements, and the cultural and political worlds of African peoples on the continent and in the diaspora.

The African Film Institute aims to create a home and a place of intimacy with African cinema in New York, through developing gradually and organically a viewing program animated by fellowships; a growing library; an active writers’ room; and an expanding catalog of recorded dialogs. The African Film Institute draws from the visual cultures that view cinema as an evening school: a popular information system in the service of education, aesthetic experience, and public dissemination—employing a methodology concerning the use of cinema’s collective production, and investing in viewing methods informed by different uses of time, visual and textual histories, and social struggles and hopes in mutuality between their own locality and the world at large. The African Film Institute is convened by Christian Nyampeta and hosted by e-flux Screening Room.

Interviews & Conversations, Podcast, Film
Africa, Documentary

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