CCW PhD student, Samson Kambalu recently opened his new exhibition, Sepia Rain, at Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg. Kambalu is currently based at Yale on an AHRC funded research fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art. His PhD examines how Meschac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art is animated by the problematic nature of gift giving in anthropology.
Reflecting on the exhibition, Kambalu said, ‘Sepia Rain, my cinema installation at Stevenson Johannesburg, is made up of 10 projected film “clips” each no more than a minute long. The short films have been created from my interest in the idea of sovereignty in the Chewa philosophy of excess, “nyau”, and from the Baudelairean idea of the “flaneur” in relation to the general economy in Meshac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art. Gaba resources ideas for his art by walking the markets and streets of Cotonou, Benin. Following Gaba’s methodology, my “nyau films” begin by walking and approach film-making as an occasion for critical thought and sovereign activities – quirky, playful and often transgressive acts aimed at expressing a radical subjectivity. The films employ the medium of film and the psychogeography of urban areas and their vicinities as catalysts for dramatic self-transformation, where the self is playfully reconceived as part of a larger scheme of things, transcending the limitations and conventions of everyday life. Sepia Rain presents my filmic self-reconceptions within social, political, economic and scientific phenomena of the wider world in an age of globalisation. In these works I draw on references from early film-making experiments, catastrophic histories of the 20th Century, questions of the environment, technology and modern art.’
The exhibition includes a wall installation of ten rules of Nyau film:
Nyau Cinema: Ten Rules
1. Nyau film must be conceived as a clip no longer than a minute.
2. Performance should be spontaneous and site-specific to found architecture, landscape or object.
3. There must always be a conversation between performance and the medium of film.
5. Costume must be from everyday life.
6. Acting must be subtle but otherworldly, transgressive and playful.
7. Editing must be limited to the aesthetics of primitive film and silent cinema.
8. Audio must be used sparingly, otherwise it must be performed live at film screenings.
9. Screening of a Nyau film must be in specially designed cinema booths or improvised cinema installations that complement the spirit of the films.
10. Nyau cinema must encourage active participation from audience.
The short films featured in Sepia Rain at the Stevenson Gallery Johannesburg are part of Bureau, a multi-media project conceived from Kambalu’s reading of aspects of Meschac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
Sepia Rain runs 18 September – 31 October 2014. The gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday from 10am to 1pm.
Stevenson Johannesburg, 62 Juta Street, Braamfontein, 2001 Johannesburg, Gauteng