Burying film experiments in Dakar

The Troubled Archives collective from Belgium was selected to the Dakar Biennal 2022 _ IN the official selection exhibited at Ancien Palais de Justice.. As a preparation to the NOISY IMAGES installation, we went to bury negative films in the garden of IFAN, in order to have the earth collaborate on the work. Thank you, all the buriers.


NOISY IMAGES was selected in the 14th Biënnale of Dakar- I’NDAFFA.

This installation is a dialogue between 16 mm image loops by Antje Van Wichelen and soundworks by Rokia Bamba.

Let us share the only image we have so far of the installation in action. Thank you Adam _ it’s all about love.

d. digesting the work

The Recognition Machine was equally present. (under)

Joanna Zylinska on The Recognition Machine

An interesting article on the possibilities of a non-trivial perception machine, and their history.
At the end, a block on TRM.
Let us cite:

“The Recognition Machine by artists Antje Van Wichelen and SICV (Michael
Murtaugh and Nicolas Malevé) can be seen as one possible enactment of such
a non-trivial perception machine that is also actively counter-imperialist (figs.
3 and 4). I had an opportunity to interact with the version of the work
presented at the Photoszene Cologne festival in May 2019, but the project also
has an online counterpart. Looking like a photo booth, The Recognition Machine
invites gallery visitors to enter and take a digital photo of themselves. The act
of taking a photo activates an algorithm that attempts “to establish links
between the pixels just recorded and those of images from a database of 19th
century anthropometric photographs,” which have been transformed by
analogue techniques. “The resulting print output links contemporary regimes
of surveillance to those of a colonial past.” (“The Recognition Machine”) [9]

The link between the images pivots around the emotions identified by the
algorithm in the viewer’s face and linked with the emotions read in the archival
photos. The reading was obtained by training the algorithm on the FER-2013
dataset, in which each image had been assigned one of seven emotions: anger,
disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, or neutral. Any possible
misrecognition of emotions that occurs as part of the process serves as an alert
to the system of consequences that predictive technology is imbricated with:
while labelling here is just an innocent game for art audiences, the
misrecognition of image links, their wrong categorisation and ascription, has
serious consequences for the lived lives of many. The visitor may keep the
print obtained, but they are also asked to explore further the posited analogy
and thus go deeper both into the archive and the colonial history of portraiture.

The Recognition Machine also shows us that all images exist as part of the imperial colonial network of visuality, a network that renders some bodies as visible
and proper while deeming others as illegible and/or illegal. What is interesting
about this project is that the artists dispense with the idea of a singular image
as a stand-alone artefact to be admired, classified and otherwise exploited,
showing that all images are part of multiple networks of knowledge and data
exchange. The Recognition Machine thus offers a model of the perception
machine as an invitation to study the production of visuality, the image
networks and their infrastructures, their underlying data and databases, the
algorithms that shape both their production and their networking.”

in Transformations 36, 2022

Troubled Archives in IN DAKAR

Our collective was showing in the International selection of the Biennale de Dakar I’Ndaffa – Forged out of the Fire 2022.

Take a look at The Recognition Machine. The boards were full on the opening night!
TRM is the fruit of a collaboration between Antje Van Wichelen and Michael Murtaugh with his ICV colleague Nicolas Malevé and well supported by other Troubled Archives members.

Hand to eye

a dialogue

Says the hand to the eye: look here, I am holding a friend, holding my child, I am holding on to my charm, to the clothing they asked me to take off, to the sword they gave me. I am hanging limp from the chair’s back, laying in my bodies lap. I am open, I am closed, I am stressed, I am resigned.

The eye to the hand: I feel you, sister.

You look young. You look old. You look strong and powerful to me.

Turn the handle for me, hand. Keep on turning. Let me look into the light and the chemicals that draw your trace.

Troubled Archives participates in Everything passes except the past in Turin

EVERYTHING PASSES EXCEPT THE PAST | TUTTA PASSA TRANNE IL PASSATO: Which role takes photography in a culture of memory? What are the ethical implications for the use of colonial images and how to overcome their unsettling narratives?

The exhibition Everything Passes Except The Past presents photography and lens-based art works by Bianca Baldi, Alessandra Ferrini, Grace Ndiritu and the collective Troubled Archives (Michael Murtaugh, Rokia Bamba, Antje Van Wichelen) that confront, challenge and repurpose the colonial gaze. They expose the colonial image archive as being a power instrument of social regimentation and point to the potential for critical redesign.

Grazie Mille to the wonderful team of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

Troubled Archives collective about their collaborations path

Troubled Archives

The story of how an individual artistic research into archives becomes a collective and at times community driven project

Troubled Archives is a collective name for the collaboration between Rokia Bamba, Brenda Bikoko, Loes Jacobs, Michael Murtaugh, Peggy Pierrot, and Antje Van Wichelen.

The collective contributed this article to Roots-Routes magazine.

Troubled Archives collective

The Troubled Archives collective is selected for the Dakar Biënnal
I ndaffa
2020. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the Biënnal is postponed to a later date.

Vitrine#5 : Deconstructing by nature (entrance installation Köln)

In preparation of the work Vitrine#5 : Deconstructing by nature, Loes and I went out into the sun to get some Rhein wasser that will help us deconstruct some colonial images. The images I re-filmed and developed on 16mm film for this work are 19th Century photographs from the Rautenstrauch-Joest museum archive that illustrate the unequal power relations between colonizers and colonized.

The work itself is on display at the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Köln, in Blickpunkt, until July 21st 2019.

photo Silviu Guiman
photo Silviu Guiman

The N***** is in the Shrank

On the 2nd of october 1997 De Volkskrant and De Morgen featured an article, “The N***** is in the Shrank”. It was about a San, stolen from his grave by taxidermists in 1832, stuffed and shipped from Africa to Europe with a load of animals. He had been exhibited in Paris and was now on display at the museum Darder in Banyoles near Barcelona. A Haïtian doctor saw him in 1992 and alarmed the international community. read more…

De Neger staat in de Kast

Op 2 oktober 1997 stond een artikel in De Volkskrant en De Morgen, “De neger staat in de kast”. Het ging over een bosjesman die in 1832 door taxidermisten uit zijn graf gestolen was, opgezet en verscheept naar Europa. Hij was in Parijs tentoongesteld en stond nu in het museum Darder in Banyoles bij Barcelona. Daar was hij in 1992 opgemerkt door een Haïtiaanse dokter die de internationale gemeenschap alarmeerde.

read more…

Ota Benga, the pygmy in the zoo

Throughout the years many of these stories crossed my path.

Of Ota Benga, for example, a Mbuti pygmy from Congo who travelled to the US with the reverend dr. Samuel Phillips Verner to be exhibited at the 1904 Saint Louis Fair.

Phillips Verner Bradford, historian and grandson of the reverend-explorer, wrote the book ‘Ota Benga, the pygmee in the zoo. One man’s degradation in Turn-of-the-Century Amerika,’ in which he took a dive into the archives to retrieve Ota Benga’s path. The story is amazing. read more…

Ota Benga, de pygmee in de zoo

In de loop van de jaren kwamen steeds meer verhalen op me af.

Vooral het straffe verhaal van Ota Benga, een Mbuti pygmee uit Congo die met de dominee dr. Samuel Phillips Verner naar de US gereisd was om er tentoongesteld te worden in de Saint Louis Fair van 1904.

Phillips Verner Bradford, historicus en kleinzoon van de dominee-ontdekkingsreiziger, schreef het boek ‘Ota Benga, the pygmee in the zoo. One man’s degradation in Turn-of-the-Century Amerika,’ waarin hij in de archieven dook om het wedervaren van Ota Benga te achterhalen. Het verhaal is verbazingwekkend. read more…

Saartjie Baartman – La Vénus Noire

Saartjie Baartman was een San (Hottentot). Ze werd vertoond in Londense en Parijse freakshows, van 1810 tot 1815. Vijf jaar na aankomst stierf ze. De Parijse gerenommeerde antropoloog, directeur van het Musée de l’Homme Georges Cuvier was er als de kippen bij om haar lichaam op te eisen. Hij wist wel haar hersens, geslachtsdelen en poep op sterk water te zetten, maar nam niet de moeite om de doodsoorzaak te achterhalen. Zo kreeg hij uiteindelijk haar geslachtsdelen in bezit, die ze hem bij leven geweigerd had te tonen. read more…

Saartjie Baartman – “La Vénus Noire”

Saartjie Baartman was a Southafrican San or Hottentot. She was displayed at London and Paris freakshows, from 1810 to 1815. Five years after her arrival, she died. The famous anthropologist, director of the Musée de l’Homme Georges Cuvier was very quick to claim her corpse. He took great care putting her brains, genitals and buttocks in jars with formalin, but he did not care to find out what caused her death. This way, he finally got a hold on her genitals, which she refused to show during her lifetime. read more…

Congolezen tentoongesteld in België

Tijdens verschillende Wereldtentoonstellingen (1885-1897) werden Congolezen in België tentoongesteld. Er werd voor hen een ‘typisch Congolees’ dorpje neergezet, waarbinnen hen gevraagd werd om zich bezig te houden met ‘wat ze normaal deden’. Meestal kwam het er dan op neer dat de vrouwen wel iets om handen hadden: kindjes verzorgen, maniok stampen,.. en de mannen helemaal niets; in een aantal gevallen begonnen ze gewoon mee voor de kindjes te zorgen. read more…

Congolese exhibited in Belgium

During several World Fairs (1885-1897), Congolese were exhibited in Belgium. A ‘typical village’ was erected for them, in which they were asked to ‘do what they normally did’. Mostly, the women would have something at hand: care for the children, pound cassava,.. and the men not much; in some cases they just started helping the women. read more…

Inuit Minik (ca 1890- 1918)

De vele verhalen over tentoongestelde mensen steken mekaar naar de kroon qua wreedheid; éen van de grofste is het verhaal van de Inuit Minik Wallace.

Hij reisde als zevenjarige met zijn familie naar New York, om er te worden bestudeerd in het natuurhistorisch museum. Niet lang na aankomst stierven enkele Inuit aan TBC, waaronder Minik’s vader. read more…

Inuit Minik (1890- 1918)

The stories about exhibited human beings compete in cruelty; one of the rudest is the story of the young Inuit Minik Wallace.

Seven years old, he travelled with his family to New York, to be studied in the American Museum of Natural History. Not long after they arrived, some of the Inuit died of tuberculosis. Among them was Minik’s father. read more…