Mathieu K. Abonnenc
Thursday 4 July 2013, 7pm
Continuing the event series A Short Summer, waterside contemporary presents Coming to light, a screening programme of works by Raphaël Cuomo and Maria Iorio, and Mathieu K. Abonnenc.
The works consider colonial history of European nations and its effect on cultural identity and global context of the present day. While Cuomo and Iorio’s Sudeuropa investigates the economies of visibility in relation to past and present mobility regimes over the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, Abonnenc’s An Italian Film is a journey into the turbulent history of copper export from Congo during the European industrialization age.
Raphaël Cuomo and Maria Iorio
SD video, 40’
courtesy of the artists
Mathieu K. Abonnenc
An Italian film (Africa Addio). 1:copper, 2012
HD video, 26’
Produced by Pavilion, Leeds and École des Beaux-Arts de Nantes-Métropole, Biennale de Rennes, courtesy Marcelle Alix, Paris
Raphaël Cuomo and Maria Iorio’s collaborative practice interrogates the construction of history within cinema. Looking at the organization of space and the imposed categories of time they propose to re-visit certain places and figures in order to question the act of representation itself.
Sudeuropa examines the ways in which European and Italian immigration policies come into force on location by reconfiguring space, time and the daily life of the Italian island Lampedusa which lies between Africa and Europe. Portraying the everyday life of several immigrant workers in the tourism economy, it simultaneously engages with the media re/presentation of the ‘immigrant threat’: the capture, detention and deportation of undocumented migrants. Focusing on the airport and the port, the film superimposes the circulation of tourists and goods with the stories of deportation and failed journeys. Voices of one of the authors and a man who changed his Arabic name to Paolo (to avoid the everyday racism of the island) weave these various loose threads together.
Raphael Cuomo, (1977, Switzerland), and Maria Iorio, (1975, Italy), have collaborated since their studies at École Superieure des Beaux-Arts, Geneva, and in 2006-07, they were research fellows at Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht.
Their solo exhibitions include Twisted Realism, Argos, Brussels, 2012, and their works have been shown in festivals and exhibitions including The Maghreb Connection, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, 2006, Image - Mouvement, Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva, 2007, Chewing the Scenery, 54th Venice Biennale, 2011. They are three-time recipients of the Swiss Art Award.
In his work, Mathieu K. Abonnenc delves into the histories of colonization and decolonization of African states in the 1960s. His aim is not only to look for the historical reasons behind current conflicts, but also to reveal the multiple relations between personal identity, community and nation. Cultural objects always carry a form of memory within themselves, which Abonnenc sets up to be negotiated all over again.
An Italian Film confronts the contemporary and historic exploitation of copper in the Katanga region of Congo, a region that has been repeatedly ravaged since its colonization by Belgian King Leopold II in the nineteenth century. Specifically, it took a shape of looting small copper crosses, a form of currency made by a sect known as the ‘copper eaters,’ for further shipment to Europe for industrial use. As a way of underlining the violence of the colonial act and its continuing contemporary re-enactment in the post-industrial context, Abonnenc has subjected several copper crosses, bought on the e-Bay, to a process of recasting.
Mathieu K. Abonnenc (1977, French Guiana) studied at Beaux-Arts in Marseille. His solo exhibitions include Songs for a mad king, Kunsthalle Basel, Kannibalen, Bielefelder Kunstverein, 2013, To Whom who Keeps a Record, Fondation Serralves, Porto, An Italian Film (Africa Addio), Pavilion, Leeds, 2012, and Foreword to Guns for Banta, Gasworks, London, 2011. He has also participated in Anguish and Enthusiasm, Cornerhouse, Manchester, Evocateur, Prix Ricard, Paris, La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Living document/Naked Reality, Toward an archival cinema, and Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain, amongst others.