Les Rencontres d’Arles:
Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński, Unearthing. In Conversation 

In the video Unearthing. In Conversation, writer, artist and scholar Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński confronts the status and legacy of Paul Schebesta (1887-1967), an Austrian-Czech Jesuit missionary and ethnographer. In his lifetime, Schebesta visited what is nowadays the Democratic Republic of the Congo multiple times. Using photography as his tool, he compared himself to the people he ‘studied’, making them into nameless subjects, captured to become of a part of the huge spiderweb of the colonial archive. This archive shares a violent past, and keeps reminding us of the pain and trauma that is still lingering today.

As an attempt to deal with the unspeakable, Kazeem-Kamiński asks us: “how do we oppose by looking?”.  In the video, she engages this dialogue by employing different strategies towards the colonial photographic archive, tackling their traumatic remembrance.

Protecting those from the gaze that looked down upon them for centuries, Kazeem-Kamiński leaves them out, erases them, covers them in the colours of the Congolese flag... All while simultaniously preserving their memory, in a complex investigation that asks us - witness, participant - sharp questions. On the contrast, the image of Paul Schebesta becomes more and more a stranger, an ‘other’, posing for pictures with guests who did not want to stay. 

︎ Read about this work on the artist´s website