Senegalese, If You Please

As if exhibiting quarters armed with razor blades wasn’t provocative enough, the Museum of Contemporary Art is supplementing its Claire Fontaine exhibit “Economies” with films that influenced the French artist collective. Next up is Reassemblage, Vietnamese academic and filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha’s 1982 film about rural Senegalese women.

This is no conventional ethnographic study of West Africa. It’s more like a look inside the head of someone who took some bad peyote while traveling down the river to find Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Minh-ha, who teaches rhetoric at University of California, Berkeley, narrates the film, stating her intention early on: “I don’t intend to speak about — just speak nearby.” She shows us scenes of Senegalese women preparing food while the audio track plays laughter, chatter, and drumming from another scene. When schoolchildren begin singing, the soundtrack goes silent. If it sounds frustratingly abstract, that’s because it is. But it also inspired some Frenchies to form an art collective.
Wed., July 7, 7 p.m., 2010

 
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