Wiener Secession, Vienna, Austria 02 Jul 2021 - 05 Sep 2021
Karimah Ashadu, Plateau, 2021, Filmstill, Courtesy of the artist
Karimah Ashadu’s practice examines conditions of living and working in the socioeconomic context of West Africa. The filmmaker and visual artist’s new film Plateau, which premieres at the Secession, follows undocumented workers mining for tin and columbite on the Jos Plateau in central Nigeria. The rugged landscape is dotted with manmade craters and ponds—traces of the exploitation of its resources that goes back to the colonial era. Unlike earlier generations of laborers, who were forced to seek employment and surrender the riches they extracted to the colonial masters, today’s workers are self-employed. Buoyed by hopes of striking it rich, they accept the hazardous working conditions and heavy physical labor, digging through their land a second time in search of the minerals.
Without moralizing, Ashadu brings into focus the beauty in the everyday and people’s self-reliance and struggle for emancipation. The workers’ own voices narrate, giving insight into their lives as the artist harnesses her unconventional cinematographic practice to chart the space between herself, the camera, and the bodies it records. Ashadu’s approach to filmmaking is grounded in observation, submitting to the anatomy of motion in order to unlock novel perspectives. Her meandering gaze engages with the mineworkers’ bodies, their hands and feet digging in the sludge, but also lingering on the rich colors of the landscape, its luminous tones of russet and ocher yellow.
Karimah Ashadu was born in London in 1985 and lives and works in Hamburg und Lagos.