a so-called archive (2020)  ︎

In Lagos, the former Nigerian Film Unit building was one of the first self-directed outposts of the British visual propaganda engine, the Colonial Film Unit (1932–1955). Today it stands empty. Its rooms are full of dust, cobwebs, stopped clocks, and rusty and rotting celluloid film cans. The films found in this building are hard to see, not only because of their condition, but also perhaps because people do not want to see them. They reveal a colonial residue, echoed in walls of the building itself.

Meanwhile, in Bristol Temple Meads, the former British Empire and Commonwealth Museum (2002-2009) was previously housed in the vaults of one Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s most famous railway designs. The museum included photographic, film, sound and object collections from across the former British Empire. However, it is now shrouded in ignominy after the alleged illegal sale of several items from its collection, leading to its closure. The monetisation and obscurity of its collection points to an attitude to Britain’s colonial past. 

a so-called archive imagines the ‘lost’ films from both of these archives, using distinctive soundscapes, choral arrangements and a radio play within the confines of images from a disembodied tour of the exquisite corpse of an archive building.

Co-commission by Mercer Union, Toronto; Plug-In ICA, Winnipeg; and KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin, with support from Julia Stoschek Collection and Outset Germany_Switzerland. Additional support from Adam Pugh and Tess Denman-Cleaver for the Projections programme. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.


All images are stills from a so-called archive (2020). Courtesy of the artist.