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Abstract

The repression of colonial pasts reveal themselves in contemporary discourses and forms of representation – they are not nor can be ever fully deemed ‘past’ says T.J. Demos. Belgian filmmaker Sven Augustijnen excavates the troubling legacy of Belgian colonialism through his documentary films and installations. His investment in archival research and the presentation of media artifacts produces a multi-sensory experience for the viewer which in turn has implications for contemporary documentary practices, archive thinking and critical media literacy. In this article I will consider the relationship between the 2016 exhibition mounted by Augustijnenat Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane in Dublin titled The Metronome Bursts of Automatic Fire Seep Through the Dawn Mist Like Muffled Drums and We Know It for What It Is and the documentary film Spectres(2011).In Spectres Augustijnenis literally conjuring the spectral by revisiting the disputed scene of the 1961 execution and murder of Patrice Lumumba, first prime minister of an independent Congo, with one of the historians of that pivotal event. Alternatively, in the exhibition The Metronome… the bodies of the victims and soldiers in the various military wars and conflicts are overwhelmingly on view in the photographs, while the spectre of postcolonialism hanging over the presentation. What are the effect(s) of viewing the films and experiencing the installations of Augustijnen, specifically in the examples of Spectres and The Metronome… where the installation format in contrast to the film, appears to suggest very little intervention by the artist and materiality is uppermost? What is the contribution of Augustijnen to archive thinking and alternative documentary strategies using the moving image and photography?

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