Alanis Obomsawin, Vincent Monnikendam, Marlon E. Fuentes, and Adolfo Davila
Curated by: Jorge Manzano
6 July 1996 - 3 August 1996
Opening Reception 6 July 1996 8pm
Cultural Politics, Colonialism and Resistance
Alanis Obomsawin – My Name is Kahentiiosta (Canada/1995/28 min.)
Vincent Monnikendam – Mother -Dao- The Turtlelike (Netherlands/1995/90 min.)
Marlon E. Fuentes – Bontoc Eulogy (U.S.A./1995/57 min.)
Adolfo Davila – Raza (U.S.A./1993/41 min.)
Mercer Union is pleased to present a video programme curated by filmmaker Jorge Manzano. Cultural Politics, Colonialism and Resistance incorporates three original works of film and one original video shot on High 8mm which will be presented in a video format. Manzano links the works through the common theme of the legacy of a colonial/colonized past. The film and film-makers speak from a point of resistance and struggle, thus giving a voice to the colonized and oppressed “other”. The images presented challenge how the “other” has been traditionally viewed and conceptualized by the dominant and imposed European culture. These four works are powerful in their honesty, in their courage and in challenging the commonly accepted historical interpretation of colonialism and thus presents an alternative reading of history.
Brochure essay by Jorge Manzano:
Mercer Union’s presentation of the video installation Cultural Politics, Colonialism and Resistance incorporates four works. Alanis Obomsawin’s My Name Is Kahentiiosta, Vincent Monnikendam’s Mother Dao the Turtlelike, and Marlon E. Fuentes’ Bontoc Eulogy are originally works of film but, will be presented in a video format. Adolfo Davila’s work Razais an original video shot on High 8MM and Beta SP. The common theme that links these works is the legacy of a colonial/colonized past. The films and film makers speak from a point of resistance and struggle, thus giving a voice to the colonized and oppressed “other”. These images challenge how the “other” has been traditionally viewed and conceptualized by the dominant and imposed European culture. These four works are powerful in their honesty, in their courage and in challenging the commonly accepted historical interpretation of colonialism and thus presenting an alternative reading of history.
My Name Is Kahentiiosta (Canada / 1995 / 28 min. )
Directed by Alanis Obomsawin
Alanis Obosawin is one of Canada’s most prominent documentary film makers and is considered a spokesperson of Native people in Canada. She is the director of the award winning feature documentary Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance. My Name Is Kahentiiostatells of the experience of one Mowhawk woman, Kahentiiosta, who participated in the defense and occupation of the pines, a traditional Mowhawk burial ground that was slated for development into a golf course by the town of Oka. The conflict resulted in the raising of army barricades and the siege of Kanehsatake in 1990 by the Canadian Armed Forces. Kahentiiosta was arrested, separated from her young son, and brutally treated by the arresting authorities because she would only give her Mowhawk name. Through the story of Kahentiiosta, Alanis Obomsawin uses language and naming as the site for struggle and resistance.
Mother Dao The Turtlelike ( Netherlands / 1995 / 90 min. )
Directed by Vincent Monnikendam
The People of the island of Nias, that lies to the west of Sumatra, believe that the earth was created by Mother Dao. The story maintains that “she collected the dirt off her body and kneaded it on her knee into a ball. This was the world. Later, she became pregnant, without a man, and gave birth to a boy and a girl. They were the first people. They lived in a fertile world.” The Niassan story of creation opens the film, which Vincent Monnikendam constructed from over 260,000 meters of nitrate 35mm stock footage recorded in the Dutch East Indies between 1912 and about 1933. The footage is taken from a collection of Dutch colonial propaganda films held in the archives of the Netherlands Film Museum, the Central Office of Information (RVD) and the NOS Polygoonarchief. The original colonial discursive commentary has been omitted and in its place a woman’s voice recites ancient Javanese and modern Indonesian poems. These poems along with song and lyrics of the Niassers, the Toradjas and the Sudanesians give a voice to the experience of these colonized people. These images depict the colonial exploitation and degradation of the people of the Dutch East Indies. They also offer contemporary viewers the eyes through which the Dutch colonial authorities saw the native people of these conquered lands and more importantly unmask the colonial mentality.
Bontoc Eulogy ( USA / 1995 / 57 min. )
Directed by Marlon E. Fuentes
Bontoc Eulogyis a film that moves between documentary and fiction. Based on historical events, the fictional persona of Markod acts as a narrative device created to tell the story of the filipinos brought to St. Louis World Fair in 1904. In Marlon Fuentes’ own words, Markod “represents the Bontoc people who died during the fair, and the many others who were forced to continue in the ensuing fairs and shows across America as examples of the “Filipino Native Specimen.” The story of Markod is the fictional narrative of the film. Yet, in Bontoc oral literature, and specifically, in the Lumawig creation myth, the name Markod is used as an imaginary narrator to whom most tales are ascribed. Regardless of who actually recites the tale, the name Markod is invoked at the end: “si Markod nan ninokokud.” (Thus said Markod the Narrator). Fuentes’ writes “as an auto ethnographic film about a tale of cultural loss and archaeological reconstruction, then Bontoc Eulogy is a is documentary … and within this larger frame, we find this fictive one way mirror, this narrative device that allows us to peer into the other side without being seen. To listen to the story that needs to be told.”
(USA / 1993 / 41 min. )
Directed by Adolfo Davila
Razais a documentary video shot on location on the state of California on High 8mm and Beta cam SP by Mexican director Adolfo Davila. Raza addresses Chicano(a) and Mexicano(a) identities and the social and political reality in the United States, through the words and voices of Mexicans and Chicano(a)s. The video explores the social perceptions and political connotation of the term “La Raza”, or ” the Race” as defined by Mexican and Chicano(a) identity. Technically this work uses video as a dynamic art form that adds to the powerful political discourse of the piece. Adolfo Davilia addresses the social, cultural and political issues that affect the communities of Mexican descendants, Chicano(a) communities, and the racism and discrimination with which they are faced. In a interview, a Chicano reminds us that the state of California and most of the southern United States once belonged to Mexico. An image that contrasts a young Chicano wearing a barrette with a mural that asks “who is the illegal alien?”, sums up the conviction of Adolfo Davila’s video.
Written by Jorge Manzo & Edited by Riel Brown