Colonized Africa, history has taught us, was the cradle of the most disparate fantasies, whether obscure or extravagant. In light of this fact, a distinguished gentleman from Angoulême, doctor Lhomme and his project, impress us with a collection of more than 3000 objects from the end of the nineteenth century to the nineteen-thirties, coming mostly from Africa, where doctor Lhomme has never travelled. How can we look at such a set today? In this first film of his, Florent Morin meets the challenge through powerfully evocative drawings, so we can imagine a collector’s journey dreamed up in this uncharted territory. We find ourselves following Lhomme’s dreamy drift through a fabulous Africa in cotton wool padding and a cozy atmosphere, with its “mysteries” equipped with fantasies of the colonial elsewhere like many commonplace notions will have us believe: wild animals and triumphant hunters, impenetrable forests, colonizers and indigenous servants. The graphic universe, however, and this is a crucial choice, is nourished with magisterially re-visited, contemporary creators of imagination. Hence these drawings coming right out of albums with the impressively documented accuracy of scientific observation; or colonial photography, transfigured in such a way as to let its figures escape like spectres threatening to challenge us. Through this split gaze, and one single gesture, this film offers a di racted imaginary and its reverse side. A double movement emphasized by the inversion of what is to be expected, devoting the real to drawings, the imaginary to the photographs’ spectral quality, with their glitches and hiccups like hidden nightmares coming back again and again. Reminiscent of Roussel’s “impressions” as it is of “ghosts” in Leiris, to name only two of Lhomme’s illustrious contemporaries, what we see unfolding is an unsettling, speechless journey of false innocence haunted by History’s repressed. (N.F.)
Original version : no dialogue. Script : Florent Morin. Image : Florent Morin. Editing : Albane Du Plessix, Florent Morin. Music : Manuel Morvant. Sound : Manuel Morvant.
Production : Miyu Productions (Emmanuel-Alain Raynal et Pierre Baussaron).
Distribution : Miyu Distribution (Luce Grosjean).
EP – Histoire(s) de Portrait
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