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Matthias De Groof and Kristin Rogghe
ôtre k’ ôtre

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2007
Media Insurgencies: Thinkspace Seminar Room, Townsend Center

11am – 1p.m. Polycentric sessions, UC-Berkeley, Townsend Center for the Humanities
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ôtre k ôtre Screenings

ôtre k’ ôtre, at first sight an incomprehensible and hermetic title, sounds like ‘autre qu’ autre’, which translates the ambiguity of identity/alterity. The video works ôtre k’ ôtre – made in collaboration with African artists – is the result of the looking at a known, familiar phenomenon – in this case ‘contemporary art’ – from a remote, unfamiliar point of view – in this case the African culture. The video works raise questions about our own perception of ‘the (African) other’ and his contemporary culture, and about the search for identity (theirs as well as ours) through art. A recurrent trait thorough the video works of ôtre k’ ôtre is the (productive) tension between ‘self’ and ‘other’, between ‘strangeness’ and ‘familiarity’, between ‘them/there’ and ‘us/here’.

Participant Bios
Matthias De Groof (°1981) is fascinated by the tension between alterity and identity in the (self-) representation of Africa. He researched this topic on various levels. He wrote his Master thesis in Philosophy on the epistemological fundaments of western representational systems, more specifically of the European conception of Black Africa. He then studied International Relations to gain a deeper insight into the historical and geopolitical complexities of Central Africa. Afterwards he studied the self-representation of Africa in its cinemas, during a Master in Studies of Film and Image Culture. This time he wrote his thesis on the themes and the aesthetics of African films, and the way in which they respond to the western gaze on Africa by gazing back at us.

Within the context of these academic inquiries, Matthias undertook various research travels to Central Africa.

During our residency at the Académie des Beaux-Arts we developed our ideas and concrete works together, and we also have an equal part in the further elaboration of exhibition formats for ôtre k’ ôtre. His ideas emerged from his theoretical background and from his knowledge of historical examples of artistic-antropological films, whereas I was rather focused on the idea of transdisciplinary experiments with the local artists. Our project is the fruit of this double input. In the results of our collaboration it is impossible to define where one’s part ends and the other’s starts.

Alongside of our common project, Matthias realised a series of photograpic works that depict the influence of the political campaign for the presidential elections on the cloths of the Congolese people. He also realised video-installations: a document in objects, video and a photograph, about a community in the periphery of Kinshasa that aims at a new fashion, ready to conquer the world market, inspired on the traditional cloths and accessoires of their ancestors.

Matthias De Groof is currently participating in the masterclass SIC (Sound Image Culture), an initiative of a group of filmmakers and anthropologists where he fulfils his meta-documentary on Jerusalem, an contemporary city-portrait composed by archive footage and biblical texts, in an ‘archaeological’ approach. Also, his newest photographical collage on the Wall in Palestine was recently selected by FotografieCircuit.

Kristin Rogghe: Kristin Rogghe is a multidisciplinary artist with a philosophical background. Crossing borders between genres and techniques, her work is characterized by a transdisciplinary appraoch and an original research into unfamiliar aspects of human reality. A strategy she hereby uses is to connect the familiar with the foreign, the ordinary with the odd.

Her video installation ‘Eye Music’, for example, researches and reveals how deaf people experience music. The project ‘ôtre k’ ôtre’ also approaches a seemingly familiar subject – contemporary art - from an unusual point of view. In close collaboration with Matthias De Groof and several Kinshasa-based artists, the participants explore the tensions between strangeness and familiarity, alterity and affinities.

Kristin Rogghe is a laureate of Transmedia, the international postgraduate in arts + design + media, housed by Sint-Lukas Brussels. Before that she has studied Philosophy in Leuven and Lisbon.

Alongside with her visual work, Kristin Rogghe publishes philosophical essays and poetry. She also works as a performer in several theatre/dance pieces.

She exhibited her work at several venues in Belgium (Wiels Off Site, Brussels; Het Entrepot, Bruges; Monty, Antwerp a.o.), and was recently selected for a residence and exhibition within the project ‘Passage’, the European Network for Young Artists.