January 13 - March 6, 2016
With contributions by Jean Genet, Kapwani Kiwanga, Helihanta Rajaonarison, S.N.S. Sastry, and Jürg Schnieder, and students and researchers from the University of Toronto.
The Day After is conceived by Bétonsalon - Centre for art and research, Paris, France and co-produced by Tabakalera, San Sebastian, Spain
Curated by Mélanie Bouteloup and Virginie Bobin
With artistic assistance from Hadrien Gérenton
Click here to download the exhibition brochure.
Wednesday, January 13, 11am–1pm
Blackwood Gallery, Kaneff Centre, UTM
Maryam Jafri and students from Prof. Kajri Jain’s graduate seminar “The Aesthetics of Democracy” will discuss the relationship between art and politics in Jafri’s practice and the exhibition’s take on the aesthetics of the state.
Wednesday, January 13, 5–8pm
A FREE shuttle bus will depart from Mercer Union (1286 Bloor Street W.) at 5:30pm and return for 8:30pm.
Artist will be in attendance.
Thursday, January 14, 12:30–2:00pm
John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design
Room 103, 230 College Street, Toronto
Co-presented by the Masters of Visual Studies Proseminar Series and the Blackwood Gallery
Maryam Jafri will discuss Independence Day 1934-1975. While consulting the archives of countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, and Syria, Jafri discovered that stock photo agencies such as Getty Images and Corbis have copyrighted photos that actually belong to the ministries of information of the pictured countries. This discovery motivated her to create works that pair each image from a state archive against its appropriated copy. Their titles—Getty vs. Ghana, Corbis vs. Mozambique, Getty vs. Kenya vs. Corbis—suggest that here the conflict of copyright in our digital, networked age is yet another form of colonialism. This project exemplifies the intellectual rigour of Jafri’s operations, in which the careful framing, reframing, titling, and juxtaposition of researched materials creates and reveals new meanings.
ARTbus: Exhibition tour to Mercer Union, the Blackwood Gallery, and Oakville Galleries
Sunday, January 17, 12–5pm
$10 donation, pick up and drop off at Mercer Union (1286 Bloor Street West, Toronto)
For reservations, contact email@example.com or 905 844 4402 ext. 24 by Friday Jan 15 at 4pm.
FREE Contemporary Art Bus Tour
Sunday, March 6, 12–5pm
The tour starts at Koffler Centre of the Arts at Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw Street) at 12pm and then departs for Blackwood Gallery, Art Gallery of York University and Doris McCarthy Gallery. To RSVP, email the Blackwood Gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 905-828-3789 by Friday, March 4 at 5pm.
All film screenings are on Wednesday evenings, 7–9pm in the e|gallery, CCT Building, UTM
"WE MUST INVENT": FILM AND THE UNFINISHED PROJECT OF DECOLONIZATION
Curated by African Historian Julie MacArthur (Assistant Professor, Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga)
In the conclusion to his classic text Wretched of the Earth, psychiatrist, humanist, and revolutionary Frantz Fanon calls on the need for those in the colonized world not only to violently throw off the yoke of colonial rule but moreover to invent new ways of being. Across the decolonizing world, film has been a central medium through which to recover the past, liberate the present, and imagine a postcolonial future. In conjunction with Maryam Jafri’s exhibit “The Day After,” this film series brings into dialogue a diverse range of cinematic engagements with the question of decolonization from across the African continent. From experimental documentaries to magic realist reimaginings of the past, these films interrogate the power of the image and reclaim the cinematic gaze for the project of decolonization. While these films all reflect the need to “invent” new postcolonial realities, they also expose the continuities of violence and the deep ambiguities of the “moment” of independence.
For more information on the film screenings, please click here.
Wednesday, January 27
Introduced by Julie MacArthur
CONCERNING VIOLENCE (Sweden/USA, 2014) Dir. Göran Olsso (84min.)
LA NOIRE DE… (Black Girl) (Senegal, 1965) Dir. Ousmane Sembene (60 min.)
Wednesday, February 3
Introduced by Julie MacArthur
IL ÉTAIT UNE FOIS L’INDÉPENDANCE (A History of Independence) (Mali, 2009) Dir. Daouda Coulibaly (22min.)
THE TUNNEL (Zimbabwe, 2009) Dir. Jenna Bass (25 min.)
YELLOW FEVER (Kenya, 2012) Dir. Ng’endo Mukii (7 min.)
TWAAGA (France/Burkina Faso, 2013) Dir. Cédric Ido (30 min.)
LUMUMBA: LA MORT DU PROPHÈTE (Lumumba: Death of a Prophet) (France, 1992) Dir. Raoul Peck (69 min.)
Wednesday, February 24
Introduced by ECASA (Erindale Campus African Students Association, UTM)
AFRICAN LENS: THE STORY OF PRIYA RAMRAKHA (Kenya, 2008) Dir. Shravan Vidyarthi (55 min.)
TESTAMENT (Ghana, 1988) Dir. John Akomfrah (76 min.)
All roundtables are on Wednesday evenings, 7–9pm in the e|gallery, CCT Building, UTM
DECOLONIZING THE ARCHIVE
Wednesday, February 10
Across the world, large numbers of negatives and photographs have been destroyed, or disposed of in ways that have led to their destruction. At the same time, letting them rot, decay, in the existing institutional contexts may be the supreme expression of sovereignty. But does preservation pose its own problems? "Archival loss" does not have the same meaning in all places. Nor should it. It remains an open question of what it will take to decolonize the archive. A roundtable discussion with, among others: Jennifer Bajorek (Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts), Sameer Farooq (artist, Toronto), John Greyson (filmmaker, Associate Professor, York University), Julie MacArthur (Assistant Professor, Historical Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga), Leila Pourtavaf (writer, curator, and doctoral candidate in the Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto).
For more information on the roundtable discussion, please click here.
For complimentary parking passes, shuttle tickets, or questions: email@example.com
Bétonsalon - Centre for Art and Research invited artist Maryam Jafri to develop a four-month experimental exhibition and public program in Paris, France in the spring/summer of 2015. Titled The Day After, it activated a broad local and international network of collaborators and participants. The Blackwood Gallery is pleased to present an augmented version of the project which will then travel to Tabakalera, a new Centre for the Creation of Contemporary Culture in San Sebastian, Spain in April 2016. The exhibition acts as a case study for a transversal research program on exhibitions, conceived with ar/ge kunst Galerie Museum in Bolzano (Italy), in the frame of PIANO - Prepared platform for contemporary art, France - Italy.
The Day After takes root in Maryam Jafri’s ongoing project Independence Day 1934-1975 (2009-present), an installation composed of photographs taken on the first independence day in former European colonies across Asia and Africa between 1934 and 1975. The photos are sourced from the countries themselves (in order to highlight, in the artist’s words, “how post-colonial states in Asia and Africa preserve the founding images of their inception as independent nations”) and display striking similarities despite disparate geographical and temporal origins, revealing a political model exported from Europe and in the process of being cloned throughout the world. The installation gathers images collected from 29 Asian and African archives, juxtaposed according to a specific grid around categories of events. In her arrangement, Jafri emphasizes the generic character of the rituals and ceremonies held during the 24-hour twilight period when a territory transforms into a nation-state. The grid, reminiscent of both photo-conceptualism and the storyboard medium, is broken, disturbing the ideological order at play in the images and suggesting non-linear readings.
The Day After takes this rare “second order archive”—or “collection of collections,” as Maryam Jafri calls it—as a starting point to question various artistic, historical, and political issues arising from these images and their historical and institutional background. What do we see when we look at the photographic depiction of an event? How is history framed by its representations? How are images and their significations affected by their context of circulation? How do visual symmetries and comparisons transform our understanding of the narratives arising from the days of independence and, by extension, the days after? And, backstage, what do conditions of access and preservation reveal about the stakes projected onto these photographs? To give a voice to stories in the margins of history’s official images and to the myriad relationships surrounding them, Bétonsalon proposed to Maryam Jafri the idea of bringing together a network of journalists, archivists, artists and researchers who helped her gather these images or whose work resonates with the issues raised above. The Day After seeks to focus on the peripheral context of the images gathered by the artist, so as to encourage varied perspectives and generate multiple histories. Conceived as a space of encounters and debates, the exhibition serve as a terrain of investigation to expand on some of the issues that emerged from Bétonsalon’s conversations with Maryam Jafri.
Thus a variety of materials (magazines, photographs, films, texts, as well as artworks) together form a companion to Independence Day 1934-1975. The contributions, emerging from the work of participants in the artist’s research over the last few years or invited by Bétonsalon and the Blackwood Gallery, seek to trigger a re-examination not only of the photographs themselves—the context in which they were produced and the historical narratives attached to them, as in the study by Madagasy historian Helihanta Rajaonarison who collected personal stories from inhabitants of Antananarivo at the moment of its independence and in so doing brought out other readings of official photographs; but also of their current status and the problems of conservation, such as those featured in the contributions of historian Erika Nimis (a specialist on Mali photography) and Franck Ogou (a lecturer at the School of African Heritage in Benin), highlighting property and international issues, as well as the subject of authorship and copyright, as addressed in another of Maryam Jafri’s works, Getty vs Ghana (2012); and finally of the geopolitical and cultural upheaval caused by the events they depict—debts imposed by European powers on their former colonies, the petrol crisis, the spread of Pan-African movements and the Non-Aligned movement (the Bandung conference was held in 1955), and the development of projects of identity and culture as discussed namely in magazines and film productions (the films of S.N.S. Sastry in India, for example) in the fifties and sixties.
Arranged throughout the exhibition like sculptures, the materials together trace a nonchronological journey, fragmented because subjective, and open to rearrangement and reassembly. They will thus be activated and recharged by the various interventions of researchers, students, and artists invited to interact with the exhibition during a series of events (seminars, performances, screenings, workshops, and visits) held in the Blackwood Gallery’s e|gallery and at the University of Toronto Mississuaga, or in collaboration with partner organizations in Toronto. This presents an opportunity to generate diverse new viewpoints, making the exhibition a constant “work in progress.” With The Day After, we aim to catalyze the many studies linked to issues raised by the exhibition in Canada and abroad, and provide a visible space for them to intermingle, thus uniting and strengthening positions while eliciting unexpected dialogue.
“Not only is it impossible to reduce photography to its role as producer of pictures,” theorist Ariella Azoulay reminds us, “but [...] its broad dissemination over the second half of the 19th century has created a space of political relations that are not mediated exclusively by the ruling power of the state and are not completely subject to the national logic that still overshadows the political arena. This civil political space [...] is one that the people using photography—photographers, spectators, and photographed people—imagine every day.”(1) It is to this political exercise of an imaginative gaze that The Day After invites us.
1. Ariella Azoulay, The Civil Contract of Photography (New York: Zone Books, 2008), 12.
Saadat Hasan Manto, Toba Tek Singh, 1955.
One independence may hide another... A funny yet bitter tale, Toba Tek Singh was the last short story written by Pakistani writer Saadat Hasan Manto, who was born in British India in 1912 and died in Pakistan in 1955. Toba Tek Singh’s eponymous hero is a crazed old man at a Lahore asylum from which a group of patients must be transferred to India following the country’s partition from Pakistan in 1947, the year of former British India’s independence. A thinly veiled criticism of the violence provoked by the Partition, the story depicts the traumatic experience of a man whose identity and homeland are redefined against his will.
Kapwani Kiwanga, Flowers for Africa, Federation of Mali, 2012
Cut flowers, variable dimensions
“Our reunion, in the deliberation room of the Great Council, is an act of faith in the destiny of Africa, strengthened by the union of all its members, without any discrimination”, said Lamine Guèye, Dakars’s mayor-senator on January 14, 1959, on the founding day of the new Mali Federation gathering Senegal and the then French Sudan. While the Federation was then still under the authority of the French 5th Republic, it became independent on June 20, 1960. It collapsed two months later to give birth to the states of Senegal and the Republic of Mali.
The bouquet presented by Kapwani Kiwanga, from her Flowers for Africa series, was reconstituted from a photograph of the ceremony of independence of the Federation in June, displaying a choir of young singers holding flowers in their hand. Flowers for Africa comprises several floral compositions linked to independence ceremonies in former European colonies in Africa. Recreated by Kapwani Kiwanga from photographs, these bouquets evoke - by metonymy - the way transfers of powers were staged during independence days. They also enact an anachronistic and performative relationship to the absent documents that inspired them.
Helihanta Rajaonarison, photographs, Basy Vava, #816, 27 June 1960 (Loan from the ANTA fund)
Malagasy historian Helihanta Rajaonarison interviewed Malagasy citizens who lived through the events surrounding Madagascar’s independence: the birth of the Autonomous Republic of Madagascar on October 14, 1958, the official declaration of independence on June 26, 1960, the return of pro-independence former members of parliament who had been condemned and exiled to France, on July 20, 1960, and the independence celebrations on July 29-31 of the same year. Their stories, far removed from the official image of the photographs, reveal the complex and varied way in which these events were perceived, brought back to life through the prism of the photographs. “As well as acting as message-bearer,” writes Rajaonarison, “the photograph reveals that which is forgotten in witness accounts or goes unmentioned in written documents.” On the day after the official declaration of independence, the front page of the opposition newspaper Basy Vava mentioned nothing of the event, which had a mixed reception among the population (who regarded it as a project by Général de Gaulle and not as a victory).
Jean Genet, The Screens (1962), The Balcony (1956)
“One more thing,” states French writer, poet and playwright Jean Genet in How to Stage The Balcony. “This play is not to be staged as if it were a satire of this or that. It is—and will therefore be played as—the glorification of the Image and the Reflection. Its meaning, satirical or otherwise, will appear only in this case.” Along with The Screens (a delirious tragedy set in Algeria against the backdrop of the war of independence, which caused a scandal in France when it was staged in 1966), The Balcony, a bitter tale dealing with the artifice of power, provided fuel for Maryam Jafri’s research for Independence Day 1934-75.
Jürg Schneider, La présence du passé. Une histoire de la photographie au Burundi, 1959-2005, Bujumbura, 2008 (Copyright: African Photography Initiatives)
In his article on “The assassination of the Burundian Prime Minister Louis Rwagasore. Shocking archive documents on the involvement of Belgium” (La Revue Toudi, July 16, 2013), the Belgian writer and sociologist Ludo de Witt described the 50th anniversary of independence on July 1, 2012 in Burundi: “The Belgian ambassador organized a grand reception at the Hotel Tanganika (...). For the Burundians the sense of unease, though unexpressed, was palpable: the reception was held at the very place where, on October 13, 1961, the first Prime Minister of Burundi, the charismatic Prince Louis Rwagasore, was assassinated. And yet many Burundians were convinced that high-level Belgian officials were behind the assassination. An investigation using the archives from the period established this irrefutably. Burundians and certain Greeks were responsible for the death of Rwagasore, but behind the scenes the Belgian administration played a major role. (…) The vacuum created by the disappearance of Rwagasore, a nationalist leader who served to unite the Tutsi and Hutu in Burundi, unleashed tensions between the two groups that later escalated into massacres and ethnic cleansing.” The photograph presented in Jürg Schneider’s book, taken by Pamphile Kasuku, was taken right after Rwagasore’s assassination.
“Debt Issue Stalls Indonesia Parley,” The New York Times, October 12, 1949
“The Dutch–Indonesian Round Table Conference to negotiate the independence of Dutch East Indies from the Netherlands took place in The Hague from August 23 to November 2, 1949. A major point of conflict arose when the Dutch demanded that the new nation of Indonesia take over the former Dutch East Indies Government’s debt. The Dutch East Indies Government was heavily in debt due to the four year long Indonesian War of Independence. The Indonesian delegation viewed the debt as not only having to pay for independence but also having to pay for being bombed by the Dutch. However with the US taking the Dutch side on the issue of the debt, the conference ended with the Indonesians agreeing to pay back 4.3 billion Dutch Guilders to the Netherlands (equivalent to about €110 billion in today’s terms).” (Maryam Jafri)
“Oil-Rich Kuweit claimed by Iraq,” The New York Times, June 26, 1961
“In 1962 when Kuwait gained independence from the British, the Government of Iraq refused to recognize it, insisting that Kuwait was an integral part of Iraq and that in the case of Kuwait, independence marked the continuation, rather than the end, of Western colonialism. Iraq threatened to invade and British warships moved in to protect the new country, ostensibly at the request of the new Kuwaiti government.” (Maryam Jafri)
Angola vs Portugal
In the year 2010, the economical situation of Portugal led the country to call for help from its former colony, Angola, a country with a rich oil industry. The shift in power dynamics between a European country and its former colony was much debated in the international media.
Paulo M.Santos, “Angola - Main basse sur le Portugal,” Courrier international, 12 avril 2012.
Anne Khady Sé, “Angola - Portugal, la colonisation à l’enver,” SlateAfrique, 19 mars 2012.
Claire Gatinois, “Le Portu- gal, terre angolaise,” Le Monde, 09 mai 2014.
Claire Gatinois, “Portugal indebted to Angola after economic reversal of fortune,” The Guardian, 3 June 2014.
David Smith, “Portuguese escape austerity and find a new El Dorado in Angola,” The Guardian, 16 September 2012.
Ho Chi Minh, Declaration of Independence of Vietnam, 1945
To this date, Maryam Jafri has not managed to locate a photographic archive of the independence ceremonies of the short-lived Republic of Vietnam (1955-1975), despite establishing several contacts in the country. On the other hand, the speech for the proclamation of the Independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam given by Ho Chi Minh on September 2, 1945 is widely available on the Internet. The first lines of the speech reproduce word for word the second paragraph of the US Declaration of Independence from 1776. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (France, 1791) is also cited.
Disappeared photographs from Iraq’s independence
“All public archives in Iraq were presumed destroyed in the 2003 invasion. Iraq’s official independence day is October 3, 1932 when it gained independence from Britain. An online search for Iraqi Independence Day yields almost no images. In 2012, an American company named Tehrkot Media claimed to have some images of Iraqi independence. The images show King Faisal I of Iraq, in his palace gardens, giving an independence speech to a group of British and Iraqi VIPs. The monarchy, criticized by Pan-Arabists as a tool of British imperialism, was overthrown in 1958 by an army coup. In 2014 Tehrkot Media went bankrupt. The site and its images have subsequently disappeared.” (Maryam Jafri)
Franck Ogou: valorizing Benin’s photographic heritage
Franck Komlan Ogou (archivist, cultural heritage expert, head of program and professor at the Ecole du Patrimoine Africain in Porto Novo, Benin) has spent years working on the preservation of photographic archival collections in Benin. He shares for this exhibition a visual testimony and a conservation project.
“In 2009 I was in touch with Syrian historian Sami Moubayed who generously shared with me independence day images from his vast personal archive. A historian by training, Sami had collected – as a private citizen – historical Syrian photos and documents from at risk public and private collections and made them available online at http://syrianhistory.com/. In our email correspondences I always had to be careful as I was warned ahead of time by mutual acquaintances that his email was monitored by the Syrian government. In 2010, his site was a not-for-profit labor of love. Now it is a commercial site under the control of a Syrian media group. Sami is still listed as founder but since the unrest in Syria began I have not been able to reach him via email.” (Maryam Jafri)
Misattributed photographs taken by Maryam Jafri at the Jordan National Library and the Kuwait National Oil Company
“Different archives classify their independence day by different means. The most common system is by date. However in Jordan for example, the Royal Library, which holds the Independence Day photos, do not classify by date but by monarch. So in order to find images of Jordan’s 1946 independence from Britain, one must look under “King Abdullah”. Even then, they are not dated as Independence Day photos so I had to request the help of a historian who was able to conclusively identify which images were of independence. The Independence Day images of Kuwait are held by the Kuwait National Oil Company. The condition of the archive is excellent, easy to navigate, and with all images digitized at optimum resolution. Under the six images of Independence Day in their archive, I came across a seventh image, presented here. I was curious about it because even though it was listed under independence, both the quality of the photograph and the type of car indicated that the image dated from much earlier than 1962. Indeed when asked, the people working at the archive admitted that it was an image of the first oil well in Kuwait from 1933. The image is still filed under Independence Day.” (Maryam Jafri)
Erika Nimis: Mali’s Photographic Memory
Photograph of Louis Archinard’s statue, Segou, 2010; Notre Mali 1960–2010, AMAP, Bamako, 2010; extracts from Erika Nimis, “Mali’s Photographic Memory: From Outsider Readings to National Reclaiming”, Visual Anthropology, 2014.
“During the colonial period,” writes photographer and historian Erika Nimis (an Associate Professor in the History department of UQAM, the University of Québec), “in most of the territories colonized by France, media censorship was rampant and access to photography was both limited and very biased. Has the situation changed in postcolonial Mali? Upon independence, colonial visual and sound archives were mostly moved to France. As a result the national archives of African countries formerly colonized by France have large gaps pertaining to certain key events of the colonial period, even if, in honor of the Golden Jubilee of Independence, copies of these archives have finally been returned to some African nations, thanks to the miracle of digitization.”
Maryam Jafri, Getty vs. Ghana, 2012
“Recently, while browsing the Getty Images website, I realized that I had already seen several historical photographs from Ghana that Getty Images had copyrighted at the archives of the Ghana Ministry of Information. The specific images claimed by both Ghana and Getty were not just any images but rather Ghana independence photographs from March 6th, 1957 – documents of the first instance of liberation of sub-Saharan Africa from Western rule. Digging deeper, I uncovered a trail of errors (wrong dates, incorrect captions) and manipulation of original photographs, errors ranging from seemingly accidental to more deliberate. Getty vs. Ghana takes the overlapping images in both image banks and posits them not to speculate on the past but to tap into contemporary concerns about copyright, digitization, and the foreign ownership of national heritage.” (Maryam Jafri)
S.N.S. Sastry, I am 20, 1967, 20 minutes (Loan from Films Division of India)
S.N.S. Sastry worked as a cameraman for the Film Divisions, a governmental organization self-described as ‘the official information organ of India’. According to documentary filmmaker Paromita Vohra, Sastry “was perhaps the first film-maker in India who freely used the first person pronoun in his films. [He] is highly uncomfortable with both the forced patriotism of official films as well as with the ‘angry young rebel’ feel of films that counter the government agenda. […] He uses the concept of ‘I’ to express this sense of ambivalence. […] He is very concerned with art and form as embodying politics (as shown in) I Am 20, a film made to commemorate the twentieth year of Indian independence (1967), in which Sastry interviews a series of people born in 1947 about their relationship to the idea of India. [In his films], he complicates the sense of the ‘we’ that was unproblematically implied in films to mean, ‘we, the people of India’ (the opening line of the Indian Constitution), through the use of an ‘I.’ But Sastry’s ‘I’ is a fragmented one.” (Paromita Vohra, “Dotting the I: The politics of self-lessness in Indian documentary practice,” in South Asian Popular Culture, April 2011, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p. 43-53)
Previous solo exhibitions include Kunsthalle Basel, Bétonsalon (Paris), Gasworks (London), Bielefelder Kunstverein (Bielefeld), Galerie Nova (Zagreb), Beirut (Cairo), the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (Berlin), and Malmö Konst Museum (Malmö). Her work has also been featured extensively in international group exhibitions, including at Beirut Art Center, 21er Haus (Vienna), Institute for African Studies (Moscow) and Contemporary Image Collective (Cairo) in 2015; Camera Austria (Graz), Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), CAFAM Biennial (Beijing), Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (Miami) in 2014; Museum of Contemporary Art (Detroit), Mukha (Antwerp), and Blackwood Gallery (Mississauga) in 2013; Manifesta 9 (Genk), Shangai Biennial and Taipei Biennial (Taipei) in 2012, among others. She was an artist-in-residence at the Delfina Foundation in London in 2014, as part of the program "The Politics of Food". In 2015, she was a part of the Belgian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennial and the Götenburg Biennial. She lives and works between New York and Copenhaghen.
The Blackwood Gallery would like to thank Bétonsalon – Centre for art & research, Tabakalera, Films Division of India, The African Photography Initiative, and Kamel Lazaar Foundation, as well as all the researchers and contributors to the exhibition.
The Blackwood Gallery is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Department of Visual Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga.