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Electric South and the Goethe-Institut present the South African premiere of „New Dimensions – Virtual Reality Africa“, a selection of Virtual Reality (VR) productions from Kenya, Senegal and Ghana. The works will show within the “Virtual Encounters” section of the 2017 Encounters South African International Documentary Film Festival. Virtual Encounters is an exhibition of creative multi-platform, documentary storytelling, curated by Ingrid Kopp. Expect a spectacle of award-winning Virtual Reality, Interactive and documentary video games!
“New Dimensions – Virtual Reality Africa“ offers a view of the vibrant, diverse and ever-changing cultural landscape of contemporary Africa. Included is the VR work “Spirit Robot” by Ghanaian science fiction author and founder of the Afrocyberpunk website Jonathan Dotse who explored the Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Accra. The festival is driving an art renaissance in the city’s public spaces. Kenyan photographer Ng’endo Mukii produced a poetic city symphony on Nairobi in the VR piece “Nairobi Berries”, consisting of her lyrical voice-over alongside surreal, layered images of the city. Her synopsis reads “In the empty spaces we cannot claim as our own, in forests full of smoke and beneath still waters, two women and a man wrangle. Each must hollow out the other’s core for fruits promised but only ever borne in dreams. For this is Nairobi, the city we call home.” Senegalese fashion designer Selly Raby Kane presents a magical 360 piece, in which a little girl is chosen to discover the invisible Dakar. Kenyan “The Nest Collective” created an interactive work set in the distant future, when a group of Africans have left the Earth to create a colony on a distant planet.
Said Lien Heidenreich-Seleme, Head of Cultural Programmes at the Goethe-Institut South Africa: “We chose to explore virtual reality not only with filmmakers, but with artists from different disciplines all over the continent. New technological means allow for new stories being told, and the works by Jonathan Dotse, Ng’endo Mukii, Selly Raby Kane and The Nest Collective are a fascinating proof of that.”
Ingrid Kopp, Curator of Virtual Encounters, said: “Virtual Reality is no longer in its infancy. Filmmakers and artists working in VR are growing in confidence. They are playing with the form, testing the boundaries and, most exciting for us, we are starting to see more work coming out of the Global South.”
Also showing at Virtual Encounters are “We Who Remain”, an immersive virtual reality film that takes the viewer into the heart of the conflict in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan during an active fighting season; “Afripedia – Dance Battle 360°”, an encounter with some of the most advanced contemporary Street Dancers in Senegal; “Indefinite”, a psychological pressure cooker in VR format, set in detention centres for immigrants seeking asylum in the UK, as well as a series of interactive VR web documentaries.
Virtual Encounters shows from 2 to 4 June at the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, and from 8 to 10 June at The American Corner (Central Library) in Cape Town. In Johannesburg, there will be a Q&A with Steven Markovitz and Ng’endo Mukii, director of Nairobi Berries, on Saturday 3 June [time tba]. Entrance to all events is free. “New Dimensions” is presented by Electric South and the Goethe-Institut, supported by Big World Cinema, Blue Ice Docs and the Bertha Foundation.