Shadow Circus:
The Witness as an Agent of Resistance

Within the context of our current exhition SHADOW CIRCUS presented in the program of the 14th Forum Expanded | 69th Berlinale, we cordially invite you to a conversation between the artists and the curators: 

The ongoing research of filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam re-evaluates the audio-visual material gathered over several years on a yet overlooked chapter in recent history of Tibet: the armed struggle for freedom that spontaneously erupted in response to the Chinese aggression, which then became entangled in global geopolitics when the CIA got involved. 

In conversation with curators Natasha Ginwala and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, the discussion unravels the subjective position of an intermediary between the CIA and members of the Mustang Resistance Force: Lhamo Tsering, whose personal archive is staged to confront the complexities of an occupied terrain, wherein individual aspirations and national interests fail to provide a symmetrical historic trajectory. At the same time, the event addresses the loaded role of the witness and filmic evidence as an extended territory in which the labour of guerrilla warfare can be debated within the larger context of the 20th century history – in particular from the vantage point of those whose histories have been framed by wrath and legacy of coloniality.

While annotating secret alliances from the inside of a rebellion, it is the threshold of invisibility and detectability that becomes animated: How may this archival evidence speak truth to power by extracting new forms of collective intelligence that are a counterpoint to the extractive condition of surveillance by the world powers? How do we consider this obscured lineage of decolonization in a post-Cold War world rife with nationalist agendas?

Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam  have been working together since their student days in the San Francisco Bay Area. They lived in London for many years working as independent filmmakers, before returning to India in 1996. They are currently based in Dharamshala and Delhi. A recurring subject in their work is Tibet—forming an intimate engagement at different levels: personally, politically and artistically. Through their films and artistic work, Sarin and Sonam have attempted to document, question and reflect on the questions of exile, identity, culture and nationalism that confront the Tibetan people. Another concern is the transformation and transmutation of societies
 through globalisation.

They have made several award-winning documentary films and video installations. Their documentary, The Sun Behind the Clouds (2009), won the Vaclav Havel Award at the One World Film Festival in Prague. They also made the Tibetan feature film, Dreaming Lhasa (2005), produced by Jeremy Thomas and Richard Gere, which premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. Their video installations have shown at the Contour Biennale 8, Busan Biennale, Mori Art Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (Vienna) and Khoj Studios (Delhi), among other venues. Their most recent work, The Sweet Requiem is a narrative feature film with a Tibetan cast and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018. Sarin and Sonam are also the directors of the Dharamshala International Film Festival, one of India’s leading independent film festivals, which they founded in 2012.

Natasha Ginwala  is a curator and writer. She is Associate Curator at Gropius Bau, Berlin and Festival Curator, COLOMBOSCOPE (2019), Colombo. Ginwala has curated Contour Biennale 8, Polyphonic Worlds: Justice as Medium and was Curatorial Advisor for documenta 14, 2017. Other recent projects include Arrival, Incision. Indian Modernism as Peripatetic Itinerary in the framework of “Hello World. Revising a Collection” at Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, 2018; Riots: Slow Cancellation of the Future at ifa Gallery Berlin and Stuttgart, 2018; My East is Your West at the 56th Venice Biennale, 2015; and Corruption: Everybody Knows… with e-flux, New York, 2015. Ginwala was a member of the artistic team for the 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, 2014, and has co-curated The Museum of Rhythm, at Taipei Biennial 2012 and at Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, 2016–17. From 2013–15, in collaboration with Vivian Ziherl, she led the multi-part curatorial project Landings presented at various partner organizations. Ginwala writes on contemporary art and visual culture in various periodicals and has contributed to numerous publications. Ginwala is a recipient of the 2018 visual arts research grant from the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.

Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung  (born in 1977 in Yaoundé, Cameroon), is an independent curator, art critic, author and biotechnologist. He is founder and artistic director of SAVVY Contemporary Berlin. He was curator-at-large for documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel, and guest curator of the 2018 Dak'Art Biennale in Senegal. Together with the Miracle Workers Collective, he will curate the Finland Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2019. He is currently guest professor in curatorial studies and sound art at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. 

Recent curatorial projects include: Geographies of Imagination: Dis-Othering as A Method, SAVVY Contemporary, 2018; Whose Land Have I Lit on Now? Contemplations on the Notions of Hostipitality, SAVVY Contemporary, 2018; The Conundrum of Imagination, Leopold Museum Vienna/ Wienerfestwochen, 2017; Every Time A Ear di Soun — a documenta 14 Radio Program, SAVVY Contemporary, 2017; An Age of our Own Making in Holbæk, MCA Roskilde and Kunsthal Charlottenborg Copenhagen, 2016-17.