Installation, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2013

Moses and Griffiths is a filmic portrait of two buildings and two men in Grahamstown, a small South African town with a strong English colonial legacy. Both men have been employed for many years as tour guides in historical buildings. Moses Lamani gives tours of the nineteenth-century camera obscura housed at the Observatory Museum. Griffiths Sokuyeka gives similar tours of the 1820 Settlers Monument, a Louis Kahn inspired modernist structure that was built in the 1970s to “guard over” the English language and culture in South Africa.

Initially I filmed the official tours, which both men repeat seemingly by rote for tourists and school groups. These tours offer a surprisingly narrow account of local history, completely ignoring the effects of apartheid and focusing instead on the influx of English settlers who left their mark on Grahamstown in the 1820s.

I then asked each man to give a personalized tour, to talk about his own history in the town and in the building where he works. The intimacy and pain of each man’s memory in these new personal tours contrast strikingly with the stale institutional narratives of their original official tours.

The four tours, both official and personal for each man, are all presented in one room on four screens hung on separate walls. The four narratives play simultaneously but the films have been edited so that each voice can be heard and through the pauses, overlaps and contrasts, a new conversation is created amongst them.

Moses and Griffiths is a meditation on the relationship between institutional and personal memory, and the discord that occurs when they are brought together. It is also a detailed study of both the protagonists and the politics that is written into the architecture that their stories inhabit.

Mikhael Subotzky

Moses and Griffiths, Film Still 1, 2012

Inkjet print on cotton rag paper
22 x 32.67cm
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Moses and Griffiths, Film Still 33, 2012

Inkjet print on cotton rag paper
22 x 32.67cm
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Moses and Griffiths, Film Still 2, 2012

Inkjet print on cotton rag paper
22 x 32.67cm
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Moses and Griffiths, Film Still 10, 2012

Inkjet print on cotton rag paper
22 x 32.67cm
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Moses and Griffiths, Film Still 8, 2012

Inkjet print on cotton rag paper
22 x 32.67cm
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Moses and Griffiths, Film Still 28, 2012

Inkjet print on cotton rag paper
22 x 32.67cm
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