Each year the argos festival invites an international range of curators to compile a series of thematical programmes. This year Canadian film critic Laura U. Marks and French curator Brent Klinkum each put together a video and film programme in which the autobiographical element returns as a leitmotiv. ‘The World seen through Nomadic I’s’, composed by Laura U. Marks, zooms in on the autobiographical element in the work of film and video makers from the Third World, from the Diaspora or belonging to ethnical minorities. The component by Brent Klinkum, brought together under the name ‘1 + 1 = 1’, puts forward autobiographical reports of intimate collaborations between artists, filmmakers and actors. ‘Deux je font-ils un nous?’ the sharp subtitle enquires. A third curated programme is ‘the filmic and the graphic: filmletters between love and memory’, after a selection by Belgian film theoretician Dirk Lauwaert. For the festival attention is devoted to the often forgotten, yet precious meta-communication medium of the cinematic letter in series of feature films and film shorts.

The world seen through nomadic I’s:
immigrant and intercultural autobiographies
curated by Laura U. Marks

1. Indigenous media: I am a collective
19 okt 20.00/ cinema nova

The original nomads, indigenous peoples have been using video for two decades. For these groups, the inexpensive and accessible medium of video offers a way to strengthen and reconfigure their communities in the face of colonial domination. It’s also a means of collective expression: individual lives in these works condense the experience of the entire group.

Vincent Carelli/Centro Trabalho Indigenista

Video Cannibalism
Video, colour, Amazon dialect, English subtitled, 17’, Brazil, 1994

One of many works produced by Brazilian indigenous tribes with the assistance of the Centro Trabalho Indigenista, which witness a collective self-invention using video. “In a cultural exchange the staff of the CTI introduce the Euanuene tribe to video. The goal of the project is to inform them about the outside world, as well as to capture on tape what they want to share with others about their culture. Very comfortable with themselves and their bodies, the men do not hesitate to be on camera, in fact they are eager to playfully jump around and show off their manhood. Sexuality is present in their everyday
lives, and is very much a part of their myths and rituals. The women however, are more reserved about appearing in the tape and are afraid that once everyone sees the tapes, they will be made fun of and humiliated. The Euanuene are also shown movies that have been made about other Indian tribes, such as ‘Dances with Wolves’. Although fascinated and touched by the movie, they did not
understand that the actors had not actually been killed. Once they understood it was a re-enactment of an historical event, they decided that they too would re-enact a scene from their history: the attack of ‘Cinta-Larga.’" (Latin American Video Archives)

Victor Masayesva, Jr.

Video, colour, Hopi spoken, 15’, United States, 1982

A year in the life of a Hopi community, revolving around the life cycle of corn and culminating in the harvest celebration. ‘Hopiit’ is a portrait in which individuals are inseparable from the fabric of communal life. Masayesva makes a painterly use of the analog video medium. Slowly shifting focus and exposure to allow objects to emerge from their environment, he shows that human, plant, animal and insect life are all interconnected. So as to protect the community from prying outside eyes, the voice-over in Hopi is not translated.

Arnait Video Productions

Anaana (Mother)
Video, colour, Inuktitut spoken, French/English subtitled, 60’, Canada, 2001

“A documentary from Arnait Video Productions (Women’s Video Workshop
of Igloolik). Abandoned by her father, a white RCMP officer, Vivi Kunuk, was adopted by the Inuk family of her mother who raised her as a boy. This is but one remarkable chapter in her life. With her husband Enuki, she raised eleven children, including award-winning filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk, living most
of the year on the land as her nomadic ancestors did prior to the creation of government settlements in the 1950’s. Surrounded by her grandchildren, she recounts stories about the land she knows intimately and her life’s destiny on Baffin Island. The history of changes experienced by Inuit people in the last sixty years is contained in the story of Vivi Kunuk – an ordinary woman with an extraordinary life.” (V Tape)

  2. I am becoming
20 okt 20.00/ cinema nova

This program of short works emphasizes the coming into identity of individuals who move between cultures and walks of life. Often it is the sensuous physical details of life that embody the experience of the new I.

Ximena Cuevas

Video, colour, Spanish spoken, English subtitled, 2’, Mexico, 1999
Contemporary Artist
Video, colour, Spanish spoken, English subtitled, 5’, Mexico, 1999
Video, colour, Spanish spoken, English subtitled, 5’, Mexico, 2002

In ‘Destino’, a banal moment in the indolent life of the Mexican bourgeoisie gives way to a shattering realization. In ‘Contemporary Artist’, Cuevas frantically rehearses an introduction to the powerful video curator John Hanhardt in the WC of the Whitney Museum, becoming-third-world before our eyes. ‘Tourist ‘“deals with the letdown of a world that is pre-mediated and post-digested--a video travelling guide that updates the 19th century artists’ Grand Tour and downgrades it to 21st century not-so-Grand status.” (Video Data Bank) Cuevas’ captured moments make fun of human insignificance in the eyes of outsiders, from the universe to the American art institution.

Nabil Kojok

January 10
Video, colour, Arabic spoken, 10’, Lebanon, 2002

Nabil Kojok made this video during the week before his entry into Lebanon’s mandatory military service. By performing various disciplinary acts, he practices becoming-soldier. Yet irony and sensuality undermine the soldier’s masculine self-abnegation at every turn, from the toy soldiers performing useless acts of courage to the recurring motif of edible rounded objects.

Yudi Sewraj

The Middle Distance

Video, colour, English spoken, 9’, Canada, 2000

Sewraj’s body of work returns obsessively to feats of physical endurance that might exorcize the feeling of homelessness. This displacement, expressed in metaphor, may result from his family history of triple dislocation, as immigrants from South Asia to Guyana to Canada. In ‘The Middle Distance’, a middle-aged man excavates a cavern under his suburban back yard, in an intent performance that underscores the desire to find a place in the world that might be home.

Tawfik Abu Wael

Yawmeyat A’her / Diary of a Male Whore

Video, colour, Arabic spoken, English subtitled, 14’, Palestine, 2000-2001

This video brilliantly condenses the journey from youth to adult and from independent farmer to the whore of the title: a becoming-other experienced in terms of sexuality. For the Palestinian protagonist, the loss of sexual sovereignty is not just a metaphor for Israeli colonization but its actual, ambiguous result.

Teboho Mahlatsi

Portrait of a Young Man Drowning

35mm, colour, English spoken, 11’, South Africa, 1999

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission attempted to heal the country’s wounds by forgiving those who came forward and confessed their part in apartheid atrocities. But in this surreal and powerful short film, a man whose village forced him into the role of assassin is not allowed to wash his hands clean.

Mona Hatoum

Changing Parts
Video, b/w, English spoken, 24’, Lebanon, 1985

Intercutting between London and Beirut during the war in Lebanon, ‘Changing Parts’ is Hatoum’s response to the helplessness of being far away while bombs fall on the city where her parents live. In a striking reversal, the images from peaceful London are frenzied while the Beirut images are calm, a child’s memory of safety in the haven of the family bathroom. Performing in London, the artist, naked, struggles inside a polyethylene-walled container, whose sloping sides and floor prevent her from standing up, its floor covered with mud. As Hatoum struggles to rise, her limbs mark the sides of the container until they become a palimpsest of muddy traces. If you have seen Hatoum’s celebrated ‘Measures of Distance’, the motif of distance from home and woman’s body half-hidden behind text like traces will be strikingly familiar.

3. I see you through nomadic eyes
21 okt 20.00/ cinema nova

Travellers and immigrants see Europe from the perspective of outsiders, turning the usual ethnographic relationship upside down. Within European technologies they find echoes of older, subterranean
knowledges, and they discover their own histories in a way they could not if they’d never left home.

Aliya Syed

Fatima’s Letter

16mm, b/w, Urdu spoken, English subtitled, 18’, United Kingdom, 1992

Shot entirely in the London Underground, the film is blurry and luminous, suggesting the faraway thoughts of the rider who reads the letter of the title. In Urdu and English voice-over, Fatima tells the startling tale of the revenge seduction of foreign sailors by a group of Pakistani women. Among the Tube passengers are other South Asian women, also emigrants to England. Their slight glances at the camera confirm Fatima’s statement that immigrant women "recognize each other in reflections but are afraid to look at each other."

Kidlat Tahimik

Mababangong Bangutgot/The Perfumed Nightmare
16mm, colour, English/Tagalog spoken, 91’, Philippines, 1978

This classic of nomadic filmmaking turns the gaze of the tourist on the West. Tahimik calls his no-budget approach ‘cups of gas filmmaking’: the film was shot on expired stock, supplemented by archival and stock footage and plenty of improvised special effects. ‘Perfumed Nightmare’ begins as a riposte to the American colonization of Tahimik’s Filipino culture, embodied in his own proud membership in the Werner von Braun fan club. Travelling to Europe to work for an American general’s gumball concession, the delightful Tahimik discovers half-forgotten facets of Western culture, much as the Western traveller will do in the third world. From Lola the French egg seller to the German producers of handmade onion domes, Tahimik finds the third world in the first, or better, the warm community of gemeinschaft existing in the chilly gesellschaft. Finally, rather than submit to Western advances, Tahimik uses ‘bamboo technology’ to retro-fit European technology for the purposes of third-world magic. The work is a hybrid of documentary and fiction--a fabulation--for the filmmaker, playing himself, becomes-another. Indeed Eric de Guia changed his name to the shamanistic Kidlat Tahimik, Tagalog for ‘quiet lightning,’ during the making of the film.

4. I am an exile / I am a poet
22 okt 20.00/ cinema nova

These two filmmakers inhabit the neither-here-nor-there status of the émigré who returns home. Liminal in relation to their homeland, acutely aware of the limits of language, they become philosophers and poets of image and sound, seeing in the merest gesture or movement of light a poignant metaphor for all that cannot be expressed in words.

Mounir Fatmi

Deux poèmes pour mourir
Video, colour, non spoken, 18’, Morocco, 1997

"A meeting between the Greek seducer Adonis, god of beauty exiled between life and death, and the Arab poet Adonis, exiled from his country and his native language" (Fatmi). This exquisite work suggests that to be, to have being, to have identity is a state both enabling and imprisoning. If exile is a being away from oneself, then exile for Fatmi is a metaphor for the lover’s dissolution in the beloved, and the final exile of death. ‘Deux poèmes pour mourir’ (Two poems for dying) reveals Fatmi’s background as a painter, in tactile images whose texture invites the viewer to merge with the image, in a perceptual evocation of the work’s themes of surrender to the unknown.

Abderrahmane Sissako

La vie sur terre
35mm, colour, French/Bambara spoken, 61’, Mali/France,1999

Commissioned by La Sept Arte for the millennium series ‘2000 vue par...,’ ‘La vie sur terre’ (Life on earth) is set in Sokolo, Sissako’s father’s village in Mali, on the occasion of the his first visit since he left to study filmmaking in Russia and then emigrated to Paris. The film witnesses the poignant difference in the experience of time between Paris and Sokolo. The major activity in this film consists of waiting for information. Nana, a young woman from the next village, waits in vain for a call from her lover on the town’s one, malfunctioning telephone. As the golden daylight moves over the village, time is marked by the row of old men who occasionally shift their chairs to stay within the shadow of a house. They listen on a transistor radio to Radio France Internationale, where live commentators breathlessly describe the millennial festivities at the Eiffel Tower. In a nub of spacetime forgotten by the former colonizer, ‘La vie sur terre’ unfolds the enfolded infinity of the village.

curated by Brent Klinkum

Divided over three programmes of about 100 minutes each filmmaker/curator Brent Klinkum shows a series of seven videos in which close collaborations between artists, filmmakers and actors are investigated in depth. From visual autobiographical reports by artist’s duos and couples on the artistic process a fragile fusion of one with the other often becomes clear. Or rather: does someone exist without the eyes of the other, do two ‘I’s’ result in a ‘we’, or is the couple nothing more than the ultimate projection of one’s self?

# 1
25 okt 20.00

John Wood & Paul Harrison

3 Legged
Video, colour, non spoken, 5’, United Kingdom, 1998

Two men are tied-up together by the leg and must thus adjust their every move to the other. The camera is placed to the front, behind a tennis ball-throwing machine…

Sophie Calle & Greg Shephard

Double Blind “No Sex Last Night”
Video, colour, English/French spoken, French subtitled, 72’, France, 1994

The starting point of this film is a love story. When Sophie feels her couple is under threat, she brings Greg the suggestion of crossing America in order to make a film, each of them with their own camera: succession of stationary shots, alternate interior monologues, picture shifts, cropping… The process offers the spectator a permanent field-counter-field within the intimacy of the couple. Will they end up being remarried?

Laurie Anderson

What You Mean We?
Video, colour, English spoken, 20’, United States, 1986

Strapped for time due to her busy schedule of personal appearances, Anderson creates a rather clumsy looking clone to take over and keep up her artistic production. Anderson plays both parts, pitting the chain-smoking, productive male half against the laid-back female half. In the end, one highly successful clone begets another clone, a situation spoofing the rise and fall of the 80s art star.

# 2
25 okt 20.00

Emmanuel Brillard & Isabelle Froment

L’un contre l’autre
Video, colour, non spoken, 5’33’’, France, 2000

From the very beginning, the décor is in place: stationary-cropped shot of a sofa, a red skirt, and a pair of legs. A man then comes to sit down. The faces are off-camera. The action starts then. Small teasing, quarrel, foot seeking its prey, love games cascading and toppling in a wild struggle, just to know who will keep their place on the sofa. Each defends its territory with more and more relentlessness.

Jean-Luc Godard & Anne-Marie Miéville

Soft and Hard (A Soft Conversation on Hard Subjects)
Video, colour, French spoken, English subtitled, 48’11’’, France, 1985

Merging the social, the cultural and the domestic in a provocative and witty inquiry into cinema, television, and image making, ‘Soft and Hard’ focuses on Godard and Miéville’s everyday life and work at their home in Rolle, Switzerland. This wry yet poignant "home video" centres on an extended, intimate conversation between Godard and Miéville about their personal relationships to the creation and reception of images. Intercut with a collage of images from classical Hollywood cinema, television, news photos and onscreen text, the couple’s dialogue critiques the dominance of mass media in relation to cinema.

Donigan Cumming

Erratic Angel
Video, colour, English spoken, French subtitled, 50’, Canada, 1998

"I’m not finished. I don’t know how long it’s going to take. As far as I’m concerned I’m officially dead." In his fiftieth year, Colin looks back on a life of drug and alcohol abuse. Four years into recovery, he is angry and articulate about addiction, treatment, and the romance of the street. In the chaos and claustrophobia of an ice storm, Colin waits to be reborn. His erratic angel is late.

# 3
15’ part of # 2

Marina Abramovic & Ulay

China Ring
Video, colour, non spoken, 98’, The Netherlands, 1988

‘China Ring’ is an "unedited video notebook" that documents the artists’ journey to the Great Wall of China in preparation for their final collaborative project. For this ambitious project, each artist was to walk alone along the length of the Great Wall – Ulay starting from the western end, Abramovic from the east – and eventually meet in the middle.

The filmic and the graphic:
filmletters between love and memory
curated by Dirk Lauwaert

In a series of seven films, selected by Dirk Lauwaert, light is shed on the meta-medium of the film letter. For film the letter is a gratifying medium. Probably the best-known example of the cinematic letter is its appearance in the opening scene of the film, after which the story unravels in flashback and the questions ‘How did it ever come to this?’ or ‘Do you remember?” are rendered. Most films make use of this formula to look back in retrospect to a past ‘which can no longer be undone’. Next to the film letter as a motive in fiction film, there is also the film as a letter. In this case the film does not show a paper object, it is the vehicle for the exchange in itself. The letter is not contained in the film, it rather structures the film. Such open letters are often polemic, political in nature and subscribe to a public debate with an ‘unacceptable’ for the future. In this film programme, containing films by, among others, Nanni Moretti, Chantal Akerman, Eric Pauwels, and Max Ophuls, the different manifestations of cinematic letters are demonstrated.

Nanni Moretti
20 okt 20.30/ film museum

Caro Diario
35mm, colour, Italian spoken, French subtitles, Italy 100’, 1994

‘Caro Diario’ is divided in chapters and headed in order ‘On my vespa’, ‘Islands’, and ‘Doctors’. The first section follows Moretti riding on his Vespa around Rome for an offbeat look at the Eternal City. Moretti’s observations are more often than not hilarious and the pattern of his tour is completely zany. After visiting the site of Pasolini’s 1975 murder, Moretti embarks on the second leg of his search for the meaning of, the meaning of what actually? Joined on his island hopping cruise by a friend, they ponder the merits, pleasures and drawbacks of the different islands, ending with Moretti’s friend raving against the philosophical detractors of television. Part three opens by Moretti stating that nothing in this final chapter has been made up and deals with Moretti’s battle with cancer. This final section of the film, though laced with brilliant humour, is certainly most touching.

Eric Pauwels
20 okt 22.15/ film museum

Lettre à Jean Rouch
16mm, b/w, French spoken, 7’, Belgium, 1992

This film is a moving tribute to French filmmaker Jean Rouch. Pauwels, a former collaborator of Rouch, accompanies him on a trip to Japan. In this cinematic letter, which he himself calls “a journey into the memory”, Pauwels philosophises about the essence of cinema and consequently of life.
‘La lettre à Jean Rouch’ is a beautiful portrait of the “crazy master” for who filmmaking consists of “improvising on the gift of the image” and at the same time an ‘experiment in looking at the Other’. The film resonates in the playful and miraculous.

Lettre d’un cinéaste à sa fille
16mm, colour, French spoken, 52’, Belgium, 1998

‘Lettre d’un cinéaste à sa fille’ is a playful, free and personal film in the form of a letter, a film interwoven with a myriad stories knit together with different textures, a book of images where a filmmaker shows the images and the stories he wants to share. This film is ”for the desire and for the pleasure, and just that”, nevertheless with a very beautiful reflection on filiation and transmission, a cinematic anagram in which fable and tragic meet and in which the image recovers the magic of being in the world

Chantal Akerman
21 okt 18.15/ film museum

News from Home
16mm, colour, French spoken, 89’, France-Belgium, 1977

‘News from Home’ presents a series of abstract and fragmentary images of everyday urban life in 1970s New York City, accompanied by the distinctive narration of filmmaker Chantal Akerman as she dispassionately reads through her mother’s alternately affectionate, melancholic, but maternally manipulative letters from her native Belgium. Akerman juxtaposes the novelty and indigenous energy of the city with the palpable estrangement from home and family to reflect the dilemma between emotional need and artistic independence. By illustrating the confluence of environmental stimuli and emotional sentiment, Akerman reveals the personal disconnection and isolating process of cultural immersion inherent in the maturation of an artist.

Chris Marker
21 okt 20.15/ film museum

Le tombeau d’Alexandre (The Last Bolshevik)
Video, colour, French spoken, 125’, France, 1993

A simple reading of this video would describe it as a simple documentary about Medvedkin, a neglected figure in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. More profoundly, it’s a contentious essay on the history of Soviet cinema and the Soviet Union itself; beyond that it’s a multifaceted self-portrait and autocritique by Marker of what it has meant to be a communist - and what it means to think about communism today. Above all, ‘The Last Bolshevik’ is a reflection on what it’s like being on this planet at this particular moment - a reflection that’s both poetic and practical, passionate and considered. After the glibness, the dullness, the despair we hear about the death of communism, of utopia, or idealism, Marker reminds us, even in his own disillusionment and bitter irony, that we’re much too eager to bury a history and a legacy we never really understood in the first place. Communism is over? Very well then: let’s take a good, hard look at what we’ve decided to dismiss. And weep, as Medvedkin once did when he found he could put two pieces of film together and have it mean something. "Nowadays," Marker reminds us, "television floods the whole world with senseless images and nobody cries."

Frédéric Mittérand
22 okt 20.15/ film museum

Lettres d’amour en Somalie
35 mm, colour, French spoken, 93’, France, 1982

This film is an impressionistic documentary essay that uses the political troubled east African nation of Somalia as the setting for a highly personal, privatised memoir. The film takes place within the mind and soul of Mitterand, as his voice-over, as he remembers, laments and longs for an absent lover.The film re-uses in its own way the travel-story from the 19th century. In this epistemological film the traveller delivers us his impressions of Africa, parallel with the expression of his confused love. The images of the capital Mogadiscio, the old colonial plants, a talk with the dictator Syad Barr, a meeting with a young Parisian nurse who works in a refugee camp, are interwoven with the incessant echoes of a lost love. The most intimate pain is linked to the misery of a nation being torn apart by internal conflicts and poverty.

Max Ophuls
23 okt 22.15/ film museum

Letter from an Unknown Woman
16 mm, b/w, English spoken, Dutch subtitles, 87’, United States, 1948 (USA)

This is a classic three-tissue melodrama with Joan Fontaine and Luis Jourdan set, around 1900 in a very beautifully staged Vienna. Opening with consummate gentleman Stefan Brand arriving home after a very late night’s socialising with a duel to fight the next morning, our anti-hero finds a letter has been left for him by an unknown woman detailing her life and how it has all revolved around her love for him. The film continues through flashback with the unknown woman, played by Joan Fontaine, narrating the story until we arrive back at the film’s present. Though the final resolving of the story is perhaps over redemptive and not a little over-the-top, ‘Letter From an Unknown Woman’ remains a beautifully shot and involving tragic classic.

This event is part of argosfestival 2002

Nabil Kojok, January 10, 2002  
  • Sat 19.10.2002 - Sat 26.10.2002
  • Practical info

    Location 1:

    Location 2:
    Ravensteinstraat 60
    1000 Brussel

    Location 3:
    Cinéma Nova
    Arenbergstraat 3
    1000 Brussel