Born Johannesburg, South Africa (1977), works and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa
Weighted Down by Gear (they left the dead to bury themselves) 2022
video 17.23 mins
from Sentimental Agents 2022
Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Nagel Draxler
A film shot in various locations in varied formats, tracking the journey of the sentimental agent, a technician and amateur historian, a character trying to tell the story of film’s relationship to a colonial legacy, but who suffers from narcolepsy. We travel with the agent to sites of the South African War, memorials, unmarked graves, museums, as well as racially segregated cinema palaces from the 1930s in Johannesburg and Accra. The agent is caught within the nervous system of empire, a network of signals, noise and blinding light. Their sleep amplifies their inability to articulate meaning from historical media and material. A Chaplin film is found in a storage space with an 8mm Bolex camera, a camera with a fault, that lets light into the shot. The camera searches for the sun, inverts the landscape, the lens slips. The agent is caught within the field of the apparatus; sentimentality like sleepiness is contagious, and they find themselves weighed down by their own gear.
Part of ‘Sentimental Agents’ film cycle, a series of moving image works embodying the entanglements of cinema within the nervous system of empire, an immersive information field of signals, light, sound and transmission. The films inhabit both personal and somatic memory and their inseparability from mediation. A registering of the re-inscription of historical representation on the celluloid substrate. Gaps, omissions, partial shadows, leakages of light.
Sentimental Agents was first shown at Galerie Nagel Draxler in Berlin, 2022, including prints, objects, the 16mm film ‘Uncommon Ground’ and the 8mm film ‘H/uman’.
Script, editing and direction: Bettina Malcomess
Camera: Bettina Malcomess and David Wein
Secondary camera: Eduardo Mamede, Lauren Mulligan, Dean Hutton
Shot on 8mm, 16mm, iPhone 13, Canon 500D and Nikon D600 over the course of 2019-2022
Performers: Anne Historical, Marc Gabriel, Debbie Siyengo, Tizo All, Myer Taub, Pumzi Manana, Adrian Fortuin, Dunja Herzog, Wynand Ryneke and Dennis with the Rollerbladers of Troyeville.
Bettina Malcomess’s work is included in Gregarious architectures.