Renée Akitelek Mboya

Moving Images

A Glossary of the Words My Mother Never Taught Me

In her practice, Nairobi-born writer, filmmaker, and curator Renée Akitelek Mboya repurposes colonial film archives to trace racist genealogies of image production and display. She is interested in the significant role of race in articulating anthropological and ethnic narratives of national belonging.

Renée Akitelek Mboya

Renée Akitelek Mboya

Her project at Forecast, titled A Glossary Of Words My Mother Never Taught Me, follows the heritage of the 1966 film Africa Addio (also known as Africa Blood & Guts in the United States, and Africa Farewell in the United Kingdom). Africa Addio is a sensational Italian documentary about the end of the colonial era in Africa, shot over a period of three years by Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi, who had gained fame as the directors of Mondo Cane in 1962. This film ensured the viability of the so-called Mondo film genre, a cycle of “shockumentaries”—a description that largely characterizes Africa Addio.

Renee Akitelek Mboya at Forcast Forum
Renee Akitelek Mboya, Forecast Forum 2019. Photo: Camille Blake.
Renee Akitelek Mboya at Forcast Forum
Renee Akitelek Mboya, Forecast Forum 2019. Photo: Camille Blake.

In appropriating the form and material of Africa Addio and interweaving it with interviews with cultural critics and thinkers to create a new work, Mboya seeks to subvert the film’s material to articulate the forensic function of image as evidence of the racist regime that portrays certain bodies as criminal, or worse.

 

Renee Akitelek Mboya at Forcast Forum
Renee Akitelek Mboya, Forecast Forum 2019. Photo: Camille Blake.

Working with artist Candice Breitz as her mentor, Mboya traveled to Senegal to conduct interviews with cultural luminaries about the film’s impact on their generation’s self-representation in the post-independence era across Africa. In January–February 2020, she will spend a two-week work-stay at Breitz’s Berlin studio to work on the version of the film that will be shown at the Forecast Festival.