The artistic practice of the collective Greyzone Zebra has emerged from a need to reflect on colonial history. Their practice developed around family archives, making it possible to engage in collective reflection on the processes of memory and oblivion through images shot mainly in 8/Super8 and 16mm. The interest of this little-known film production lies in the diversity and spontaneity of its gestures and in the places and meanings given to those images. Greyzone Zebra set up their artistic research for Contour Biennale 9 in two stages.
In January 2019, the collective organised an initial session. They launched a call for films gathering dust in people’s attics in Mechelen and the surrounding region. Family films from European colonies, dating from the 19th century to the first years of these colonies’ independence, raise many questions that form the starting point for a dialogue.
The second intervention by Greyzone Zebra at the Contour Biennale 9 is jointly curated and performed with Andrea Stultiens, a researcher and artist from the Netherlands. As part of a work in progress, Greyzone Zebra and Stultiens will activate a selection of clips from a collection of 8mm film amateur films produced in the Belgian colonies during the 1950s, bought in a thrift store in Mechelen in early 2019. This is a first attempt to make the collection available while responding to it artistically through different practices. In this multi-vocal reading of the material, documentary potential will be discussed along with the problematic aspects of the distorted power relations that formed that status quo during the 1950s, when the material was produced in the Belgian colonies, as well as how we digest and respond to the complexity of these images in which the gaze needs to be deconstructed.