Akounak | Zerzura

In collaboration with Debaser, TIMEKODE, Sahel Sounds, SAW Video’s Knot Project Space is pleased to present a special summer exhibition featuring two music-based films from the Sahara: Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai [Rain the Colour of Blue with a Little Red in It] (2015) and Zerzura (2017). Both of these Tamasheq-language films are projects by the Sahel Sounds record label and its founder Christopher Kirkley, who employs a participatory mode of ethnographic, community-based filmmaking in which participants and actors play a central role in shaping the nature of the film’s dialogue, narrative and overall trajectory. The two films also speak to the potential of the ‘re-make’ as a mode for transcultural exchange, with Akounak transposing Prince’s 1984 classic “Purple Rain” into a desert landscape, and Zerzura recalling Jim Jarmusch’s 1995 western Dead Man, propelled by Neil Young’s meandering guitar improvisations.

At the heart of each of these works are two musicians from Agadez, Niger: the ‘Hendrix of the Sahara’ Mdou Moctar, and his rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, who star in each film, respectively. In advance of a live performance by Mdou Moctar and his band in Ottawa on Friday, July 26th at Queen St. Fare (170 Queen Street), this exhibition presents Akounak and Zerzura alongside playback of their original scripts, treated by Kirkley and his team as points of departure and sites of negotiation. Through this comparative mode of viewing, between the script and the edit, loose narrative threads can be seen weaving in and out of scenes depicting everyday life of the Tuareg people. Stunning performances by Mdou Moctar and Ahmoudou Madassane transcend the fictions in which they are situated to tell a different story altogether.

For more information about the films and artists and to view Knot Project Space hours, please visit: sawvideo.com/knot/exhibit/akounak-zerzura