HOUSING SPIRITS 2002-2000_Collaboration with Marika Seidler(Dk) and Lambert Abadagan(Benin)
Le Soleil De Minuit, Auditions in Cotonou, Funeral of Madame Kapaténon and Interviews on Burial Rituals
The Video installation Le Soleil de Minuit
It is said that the dead in Benin love to visit places of great activity and life. Young people who die early want to relive youth in the heart of a discothèque, where lovers hope to meet. Then there are those who want to visit the marketplace, and if you have ever seen the hot-bedded action, which takes place at such a scene, you would know the enjoyment to be found.In Nigeria, it is said that there is marketplace renown as a seat bed for the dead spirits.
Relations with ancestors play an essential role in the life of their descendants, as they determine the health and welfare of the family existence, so they are placed as a priority in family activities.The ancestors act as mediators and informants and sometimes aid in finding peaceful resolutions in times of squabbles and trouble. In general, the dead play a commonplace role in one’s daily life, and thus, their existence is essential in Beninoise life and society.
The video installation Le Soleil de Minuit seeks to enlighten the Beninoise close relationship to their ancestors. The installation, which premiered at i-n-k gallery in Copenhagen, was divided into two sectors, a documentary and fractional account.
The videos in the 1st room were to aid the viewer in having a deeper understanding of the symbolism, ritual, beliefs and attitudes to the relationship, which exists between the living and the dead. In many places there tends to be a separation between these entities while in Benin there is unification between these two worlds. They are as real as one another and the characters partake in a daily relationship and existence with one another.
In addition, the videos follow our research and production process. This commenced with gathering information and factual accounts from religious leaders in the Vodoun community then gradually developing the project into a more personal and fictive approach, which resulted in the final film, Le Soleil de Minuit. Consequently, the video installation is a travel map through various viewpoints and stories on the living dead as ancestors or strangers.
Le Soleil de Minuit, the installation, consists of four compartments, an entrance with a bar and a homemade discothèque, and hanging over the bar is a neon light sign, which introduces the viewer to Le Soleil de Minuit.
In the Documentary room, the compartments are divided up by curtains, which are the color of red earth. The Bar leads into the two partitions. If one enters the first on the right, the viewer will approach a monitor, where the first video, Interviews on Burial and ritual practices in Ouidah, Benin is shown. This film documents the work of the research group, and their interviews with religious leaders and teignons, on burial rituals for the Fon people in Benin.
If however, the viewer chose to walk straight ahead and went past the bar, she entered into a space where two videos, The Funeral of Madame Kapatenon, and Auditions in Cotonou, Benin were projected unto parallel walls. In the middle, curtains divide them with flowers in West African print. The Funeral of Madame Kpatenon was shown without sound, and thus the other video, acts as a commentary or dialogue to the visuals.
Auditions in Cotonou in Benin is inspired by two factors, our translator Eddie Agonglo. One evening after working awe ended up discussing the subject of the relationship which exists between the living and the dead, that night he told us his own story of how he had once met a ghost.
This story inspired us and subsequently, we invited actors and actresses in Cotonou to audition and give accounts of meetings, whether it is friends, family or personal encounters with the living dead. This resulted in the video, Auditions in Cotonou, Benin.
After viewing the background films, if the viewer strolls forward through the flower curtain, and through a narrow tunnel of purple and gold curtains with spiders, West African print, she enters a room filled with moving purple light circulating unto white lawn chairs. On the side wall on the left Le Soleil de Minuit is projected onto the wall, and is encumbered by yellow golden curtains´wrapping the room into a yellow light.
The videofilm Le Soleil de Minuit focuses on the relationship, between the living and the dead in Benin captivated through Eddie, a young translators’ love affair at a discothèque. The video film starts with children playing hide and seek in the night, and as the story moves along, a voiceover the viewer is familiarized with proverbs from Benin on the liaison between the living and the dead.
Funeral Madame Kpattenon and Auditions in Cotonou
interplay between the living and the dead, and one is never certain who is active or passive in their roles. This forces the viewer to question his or her notion of reality.
Two storytellers a man and a woman introduce the evening’s theme, men who chase young beautiful women in bars. A young man takes over to recount his own experience. Eddie is in the habit of wandering around sleepless at night, entertaining politicians and chasing women at bars and clubs. One night, he meets a woman who changes his perception of dating forever.
He meets an exquisite young woman in a discothèque, he invites her to his house, and they enjoy sex together.
Shortly, after she insists on returning home. Eddie is eager to follow her home to her house, but she rejects his interest.
Furthest room in back Le SoLeil de Minuit video still
Finally, she gives in, and to Eddie’s shock, he realizes that the woman lives in a cemetery, and that he has made love to a ghost.
All scenes and locations in the film are inspired by an amalgamate of similar stories, and yet, they cannot be placed within a specific time or location. The scenery and characters have an amorphous quality. Added to this, there is a constant interplay between the living and the dead, and one is never certain who is active or passive in their roles. This forces the viewer to question his or her notion of reality.
The video Auditions in Cotonou, Benin, West Africa (Below images from this video)