Filmed in Kinshasa’s velodrome, an old Belgian colonial motorcycle racetrack, “Congo Super 8” showcases two folkloric dance troupes. Originally shot on super 8 film, the visuals pander to our nostalgia for old-fashioned ethnographic films, while disrupting historical frames of reference. Akin to early ethnographic films of dance performance in Africa, the accompanying silence further de-contextualizes the event, limiting the spectator’s experience. The choice to overlay the film with a computerized reading of James Clifford’s canonized text “The Predicament of Culture” is intended to problematize older pedagogical methods. The computerized sound of the voice not only juxtaposes the dynamic movements of the dancers, but also the anthropological text itself.
Lesley N. Braun is a Montreal video artist and PhD candidate at University of Montréal in Anthropology. Her research focuses on the ways in which dance, in its embodied and symbolic forms, participates in the constitution of an urban experience. Most recently, she explored the dance of popular female concert dancers in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo where she lived for a year. Braun is recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Award, granted by the Canadian Humanities and Social Science Research Council.