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Image copyright Suzanne Lipinska, 1970.

Throughout May and June 2020 Gasworks presents a second series of online screenings of artist films commissioned for our exhibitions programme over the last few years. Featuring works by Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Patricia Domínguez, and Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, each piece is available to stream on Gasworks’ website for two weeks and is accompanied by interviews with the artists, texts and reviews.

Gasworks and Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc wish to dedicate this screening to the memory of Sarah Maldoror who passed away on 13 April 2020, at the age of 90, from COVID19. Scroll down to the resources section at the bottom of this page to read a short statement from Sarah Maldoror's daughter, Annouchka de Andrade, about this project.

Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc’s Foreword to Guns for Banta re-introduces the public to the work of Sarah Maldoror, a pioneering yet little known French filmmaker of Guadeloupean origin, whose films are closely linked to the liberation struggles in lusophone Africa. Using her films as a catalyst for his research, Abonnenc questions how to approach images of past revolutionary moments and to reactivate the spirit and unifying character of the liberation movements.

Abbonenc’s diaporama focuses on the lost film Guns for Banta (1970), the first feature-length film by Sarah Maldoror. Shot in Guinea-Bissau, Maldoror’s film followed the life and untimely death of Awa, a countrywoman involved in the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Parallel to this semi-fictional narrative, the film offered rarely seen images of the involvement of women and children in the struggle.

Financed by the Algerian army, which hoped to turn it into a propaganda tool, the film was confiscated from Maldoror because of her demands for full control over the editing. To this day the reels have not been identified or returned. What remains of Guns for Banta are a collection of photographs taken by war photographers during the filming and fragmented memories of Sarah Maldoror, collected by Abonnenc over two years of conversations with the filmmaker.

As a retrospective foreword to an absent film, the diaporama tells the story of the artist's search for Guns for Banta and explores the figures of the militant, the filmmaker and the photographer, examining their respective functions in the making of a revolution. Speaking from these various positions, the voice-over highlights the relationship between revolution and cultural production in the context of the decolonisation of Africa. The juxtaposition of archival images, texts and the artist's reading of the material propose a reflection on the afterlife of the militant image.

Foreword to Guns for Banta was part of an exhibition of the same name at Gasworks in 2011, which followed on from a residency at Gasworks. READ MORE

Press articles and resources

Read reviews of the exhibition at Gasworks in Art Monthly and Modern Painters - scroll down to find them in the resources section at the bottom of the page. Read an article about Sarah Maldoror on Documenta Madrid 2019 website and watch a video of a talk The Russian Connection which accompanied the exhibition. 

Foreword to Guns for Banta is the result of a co-production between Gasworks, Picture This and Centro Cultural Montehermoso Kulturunea. The exhibition and events that accompanied it were generously supported by Institut Français and Fluxus.

Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc Born 1977 in Paris (French-Guyana) and lives in Sète. Through a multifaceted approach that includes the activities of artist, researcher, exhibition curator and film programmer, Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc explores the areas neglected by colonial and post-colonial history. The absence, haunting and representation of violence are all the themes addressed in the artist's work, which proceeds by extraction and excavation, and works to reintroduce into the collective history personalities and cultural materials that have been ignored. Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc's practice, which often involves the collaboration of actors from various disciplinary fields and incorporates the production of drawings, films, slideshows and discursive devices, is defined more particularly in terms of questioning, weaving affiliations and reflecting on the role of images in the formation of identity.

Recent solo exhibitions include: Foundation Museo Jumex, Mexico, Baloise Kunstforum, Basel (2018) Museum für Modern Kunst, Frakfurt (2016). His work was also featured at the Casa Baragan, Mexico and the Serralves Foundation (2019), the Hammer Museum (2018), and the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). He was a DAAD guest in Berlin for 2019/2020.