Luta ca caba inda (the struggle is not over yet) is as stage from a research project initiated in 2008, but Filipa Césars interest in Guinea-Bissau goes back to an early age and is closely associated with her fathers past. In her first trips to Guinea, César began to unravel the origin of cinema in this West-African country and specially the existence of a cinematic archive, which was in a very derelict state due to both the difficult atmospheric conditions and to the ongoing political instability of the country.
The history of cinema in Guinea Bissau starts during the War for Independence with Portugal (1963-1974) with Amílcar Cabral, the revolutionary leader, sending four young guineanses - Flora Gomes, Sana na NHada, Josefina Crato and José Bolama Cobumba - to the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) to learn how to make cinema. For Cabral, cinema was a way of education and of bring the more then 40 ethnic groups to know each other and join the same aim - Independance. Far from cheap propaganda, it was a strategy to make them aware the struggle, of his revolutionary ideals and taking at the same time the power of ones own image in order to visually create a new national identity. Cinema was a political tool, a way to create a new collective memory, to write history of the new liberated Guinea with another empowered voice.
Ive been very lucky, Ive never had to point a gun at anyone. Its not that there werent situations where I could have fired a gun, but I had a camera in my hand instead: And that is better. Sana na NHada said when talking to the artist.
Cinema in Guinea Bissau thrived for some years after Independence but it was always a victim of the countrys constant economic and political crises and with the coup détat from 1980 it stop being a governmental priority and with the following outbreak of the civil war in 1998, it was completely abandoned as well as the archive of the films made until then.
Filipa César heard of the existence of a room at the INCA (Instituto Nacional do Cinema e Audiovisual da Guiné-Bissau) storing the film cans that had been savaged and what she found was a complex corpus that could be divided in subjects: footages shot by filmmakers Flora Gomes and Sana na NHada, some in editing process, few finished films, a collection of films from allied countries such as GDR, USSR, Cuba and Sweden, as well as video copies of films left by Chris Marker (that invited by Mario de Andrade, at that time Culture Minister to set up a workshop in Bissau with the filmmakers in the end of 1970s). She decided to prevent this archive from decay through digitalization, in attempt to think about a certain history that was about to disappear and how deal with the complexity of retrieving to sight an almost vanished memory.
The exhibition at the Jeu de Paume
is the first stage of her attempt to animate this archive, to continue a struggle that is not over yet. Instead of a historical, archival exhibition César wants the spectator together with her to consider how to think these images assembling facts and fictions, personal narratives and collaborations, Luta ca caba inda (the struggle is not over yet) a title appropriated from an unfinished film from the end of 1970s, included in this corpus, is poetical visual essay about the struggle implied in the act of accessing this images from another time.
Filipa César, Portuguese, born in 1975, lives in Berlin. Her work has been shown among other at Mudam, Luxemburg; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Centre dArt Santa Mónica, Barcelona; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; FormContent, London; SF MOMA, San Francisco, and she has participated in Manifesta 8, Cartagena; the 29th Bienal de São Paulo, S. Paulo; the 12th Venice Biennial of Architecture, Venice; and the 8th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul.