A woman poses. A man with a camera zeros in on her and takes a picture. But very soon, the shoot degenerates. Each click of the camera sounds like a machine gun. No-one speaks; the editing is disrupted, and with it, the images, the spaces and the timing. The woman escapes. In an abandoned building, a man, as mute as she is, shrinks from her gaze. It is he that the film now follows: he explores a museum exhibiting the history of Africa, its suffering and its external interferences.
Matata draws up an inventory of Africa and the legacy of its representations. Speech is confiscated, and the man and woman wander without ever being able to vocalise the violence that they were witness to or victim of. Right from the outset, photography, and with it, cinema, are as much a predatory technique as an instrument of beauty: ethnographic documents filmed by the coloniser, or historical images of those who played a part in decolonisation, now dead and neutralised in museums…
Faced with this history of exploitation, bodies resist. When speech is absent, music takes the floor, and choreography invades the living spaces – a group of young men improvises a dance in a jeep that’s stopped at the traffic lights, an exploration of ruins becomes an intricate ballet between people looking for each other, and even an ancient ceremonial dance is reconnected with concealed history. Or how, with a reifying gaze, the possibility of becoming the subject is apparent once again.