A Third Version of the Imaginary / The Hypothesis of the Mokélé-Mbembé (L’hypothèse Du Mokélé M’bembé)
France. Dir. Marie Voignier. 2011, 78 mins. Digital projection. With Hinterland (FID 2009), shot in East Germany, Marie Voignier introduced us to spaces with multiple strata in which layers of history, the present, and the imaginary cannot be distinguished. The Hypothesis of the Mokélé-Mbembé ploughs similar ground, while carrying us far from Europe, to south-eastern Cameroon. The explorer Michel Ballot has meticulously mapped out the jungle and the muddy riverbanks in search of a mysterious animal unknown to zoologists: the “Mokélé-Mbembé,” a prehistoric hybrid of rhinoceros, crocodile, snake, and dinosaur. Is it a real animal or a mythological beast? Ballot questions the Pygmies, installing a camera to film the river during his absence, seeking traces, trying to find clues. From this obsessive quest the contours of a ghostly Africa are drawn in negative, more imaginary than real, an object of fantasy, a mental space made of silence, stamped with a colonial vision, discrete but insistent.
A Third Version of the Imaginary
With filmmaker Benjamin Tiven in person
Kenya. Dir. Benjamin Tiven. 2012, 12mins. Digital projection. The question of language, its representation, and its links to the image are brought forth through poignant and revelatory means in this very short and intense film. Set in a film library in Nairobi and guided by the manager of the site, we follow a presentation of archival footage shot in Kenya. Tivens’ enigmatic film—an assemblage that makes subject of the archive and its containing materials inextricable its own—develops complex questions around the politics of the conservation and preservation of images.
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