Ile Aux Serpents
This film is the central work of the Paradise Fallen cycle. It was begun in April 2017 while I was present at the Chimurenga-led RAW Academy at the RAW Material Company in Dakar, Senegal.
The work is triggered by the landscape around the Dakar peninsula and catalysed by thinking through the Islands of Ngor, Goree and especially Île de la Madeleine (or L’île
The ocean and the land meet on this coastline in ways that enact a dramatic and tantalising allusion to mythology, narratives, histories and forms that momentarily appear, emerge and recede. The tension in the work is between elemental forms and transitions, of desire, yearning, pain, loss and regret.
The voice over, of an undefined character, narrates the desire and conflict of a series of events that occurred on an island
The compulsion for return is disturbed by the recognition that a return will lead to the total obliteration of the narrator’s self.
During a residency in January/February 2018, I revisited many of the places I had begun filming in
The film should be shown in a large space.
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Excerpt from conversation following
Zen Marie with translation by Youssoupha Sarr
– after the screening –
Zen Marie: Merci uh… I think I got most of what you were saying, and it was really interesting to hear your take on the work. Um, Nagadef, Assalamu alaykum, bonsoir, howsit… I’m…[speaks in French]…so I don’t think I need to add much more but I just want to add a few comments.
ZM: For me this is quite a challenging work in the sense that I think it’s quite different to what I normally make, so it’s strange for me to watch it, it’s almost like looking at someone else in a new way
ZM: But, there’s in the work I think something that’s fascinated me for a long time. Um, and it’s ideas about that…
ZM: The land, the landscape and… in this instance what becomes the end of the landscape and the beginning of something that’s in fact totally alien and signifies death in many ways, and that’s the seascape. It’s an inhospitable space
ZM: But it also in different ways signifies um, kinds of hope, a transcendence, and in the age of seafaring and the colonial age, a kind of conduit from one space to another…
ZM: And, in West Africa, particularly, the significance of the Atlantic, and its role or use in the trans-Atlantic slave trade is unavoidable
ZM: So in a way I approach this work thinking with or through the black radical scholars from the Caribbean like Glissant and Cesar, but then thinking at the same time with people like Joseph Conrad and William Golding, and thinking also with he kinds of images that are made around the sea and the landscape in painting and photography.
[French translation] … uh, sorry can you repeat the other part…
ZM: …well the images, the ways in which the landscape and the seascape have been rendered in painting and photography become a thing that is also important for me to think about…there’s a lot to say about how landscape painting operates to capture and to own land…
ZM: …As well as how photography, from postcard photography the kinds of beautiful images of beautiful islands circulate the world to other forms of photography, those are also important
ZM: So all of those things are kind of ideas that provide me with a platform or a point of departure which in many ways I sort of put aside and really just have, in this work, attempted to photograph a landscape…
ZM: So the complexity of ideas and politics I think are very important for me, but at another level I’m really interested in engaging with the landscape and that’s the approach that I’ve taken with this.
ZM: And that’s been an attempt to be delighted, seduced, and excited by the landscape, but also, to be terrified and really scared but what I found in certain places
ZM: I think I’ll stop there and open for questions…
– end of audio –