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A New Exhibition Returns the Colonial Gaze in Film

Reclaiming stories from Morocco, Niger and Senegal

At the Barbican, 2018 is a time of change. With the announcement of the Art of Change (a series of exhibitions that explore social and political matters throughout the world) the London-based institution declared this year as a time for reflection.


While 2017 saw women at the center, with an exhibiton of powerful female narratives from female perspectives, this year, the art world turns to colonialism. As part of their 2018 exhibition series, the Barbican presents Returning the Colonial Gaze—a five-part series exploring filmmakers from formerly colonized nations.


The series intends to challenge perspectives by putting films by directors from Mauritania, Senegal, Morocco, and Niger—all of whom contested French colonial narratives by reclaiming their own cultures and telling their own stories—at the forefront.


The exhibition will feature key postcolonial films ranging from the 50s to the 70s—among them the low-budget Soleil O by Mauritanian director Med Hondo, telling the story of a black immigrant’s early journey in Paris and his experiences with racism and the everyday injustices he faced.


Moroccan films The East Wind, Si Moh and The Unlucky Man will also be shown. The films, directed by Moumen Smihi in the early 1970s, were one of the first attempts to showcase Moroccan culture from a local perspective—with one of the film’s centred around a labor migrant in France, and the other set in Tangier the day before Morocco took its independence.  


Returning the Colonial Gaze, May 2-30 at The Barbican, London

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