Bouchra Khalili

Foreign Office, 2015
Digital film, duration: 22 minutes

Produced in Algiers in 2015, Foreign Office combines a digital film similarly entitled, a series of 15 photographs and a silkscreen print entitled ‘The Archipelago’. The mixed media installation focuses on the period (1962-1972) during which Algiers hosted headquarters of many liberation movements from Africa, Asia and the Americas, such as the International Section of the Black Panther Party and Nelson Mandela’s ANC. Investigating that forgotten past of the post-independence movement and internationalism, Foreign Office invites to reflect on history and its transmission. The film shows two young Algerians developing an alternative historiography defined by “cinematic montage” as an examination on history and its echoes. The series of photographs documents the ghostlike places, which formerly housed liberation movements, revealing the hollow dissipation of utopia still haunting the present period. The Archipelago operates as a montage articulation between the film and the photographs, offering an “archipelagic” map of Algiers drawn from the geographical dissemination of liberation movement representations. Translated into island-like formations whose forms scrupulously comply with the architectural structure of each of these headquarters, the archipelago transposes a “Whole-World”, as Edouard Glissant defined it. But it also shows a lost “Atlantis”, where the acronyms of those liberation movements are the last traces, now illegible.

Film stills courtesy of Mor Charpentier Gallery, Paris