Xaraasi Xanne [Crossing Voices]
Babylon, Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 30, 10178 Berlin
Directed by Raphaël Grisey and Bouba Touré (FR, DE, ML), 2022, 123′′, in Soninké, French, Bambara, and Fula with English subtitles
In the mid-1970s, a group of activists from the western African diaspora, hailing from agricultural backgrounds and living in Parisian workers’ residences, decide to turn their backs on factory work in order to train with French farmers in the Champagne region. Their objective was to create an agricultural cooperative in a country in the Sahel region of western Africa. In December 1976, the group founded the agricultural cooperative Somankidi Coura in the Kayes region of Mali. Using rarely seen cinematic, photographic, and sound archives by Bouba Touré, Crossing Voices interweaves the story of Somankidi Coura with the struggles of undocumented African migrants in France. The return of a group to the homeland follows a winding path that travels through the ecological challenges and conflicts on the African continent from the 1970s to the present day. Raphaël Grisey accompanied Touré, one of its principal actors, revisiting his personal archive amassed starting in the early 1970s. Furthermore, the film is an act of transmission and kinship. Over the course of the film, different voices enter the soundscape to accompany Touré’s voice; they bring the tale of a forgotten memory toward a possible future sung by an electronic griot storyteller.
Raphaël Grisey uses video, editorial, and photographic works to assemble narratives about politics of memory, migration, and architecture. The book Where is Rosa L. hidden (2001–06) and the film National Motives (2011) study the ghosts of various political regimes in the public spaces of Berlin and Budapest. Through diverse documentary, fictional, or essayist forms, Grisey’s films and installations deal with neocolonial spatial politics and decolonial storytelling and practices in agriculture and urban space (Trappes, Ville Nouvelle, 2003; Cooperative, 2008; and Sowing Somankidi Coura, a Generative Archive, 2015, in collaboration with Bouba Touré (†)). He worked with Florence Lazar on the films Prvi Deo and Red Star (both 2006), which deal with justice in postwar former Yugoslavia. Other film projects were made in France amid student strikes (The Indians, 2011), in China among Míngōng peasant workers (The Exchange of Perspectives, 2011), in the social housing complex of Pedregulho in Brazil (Minhocão, 2011), in the Brazilian Positivist Church in Rio de Janeiro (Amor e Progresso, 2014), and around maroon quilombola communities in Minas Gerais (Remanescentes and A Mina dos Vagalumes, both 2015).
Followed by a discussion with Raphaël Grisey and Kader Attia (curator of the 12th Berlin Biennale)