Roy Villevoye, 2005, 18'40''

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In 'Beginnings', Villevoye plays with the genre of documentary without strictly complying with its rules. Many people regard his films, which on previous occasions were often made in cooperation with Jan Dietvorst, simply as documentaries, although this is what Villevoye is precisely trying to avoid. No voice-overs, no condensation of time using specific methods of editing, no unambiguous story that has to be told - in fact none of the characteristics of a standard documentary can be found in a film such as Beginnings, and yet we immediately think we understand what we are watching. We recognize the images, because we have seen 'naked and exotic people in the jungle' before; this will probably be about their typical customs and ideas. However, the viewer has ben put on the wrong track here. We can see a naked black man and woman calmly making their way through the trees and plants, every now and again plucking at a branch. A moment later another naked black woman is reading aloud from the bible in her own language, about the creation of man and woman. The beginnings as described in 'the Book' and the beginnings of everything there in that forest (our romantic idea of 'savages') come together here in a remarkable way; Villevoye confronts us with the Western longing for an original myth and its projection onto the 'Other'. Then, once again in a forest, which could equally be somewhere in the Netherlands, we see a naked white man and woman walking, plucking at a branch now and then. Is this an accidental pair of nudists, or have they been asked to pose in front of the camera, so that we can see how they contrast with the previous images? We then return to the black couple who are getting dressed again and are negotiating with the film maker about the price they are expecting to receive for their display of nudity. Villevoye seems to want to say something about how much culture is left when we are naked in a forest. A great deal, as it turns out.

Netherlands Media Art Institute, Esma Moukhtar

Marta Dasén, Caia Hagel, Tim Georgeson, Rufus Satí, Jakob Sobór, Vitalia Toparamók
Special thanks to Jan Dietvorst, Koos Knol and Rufus Satí
Filmed on location in Asmat, Papua and in Holland, 2005

  • Date: 2005
  • Length: 18'40''
  • Type: Video
  • Copyrights: All rights reserved (c) LIMA
  • Genre: (experimental) documentary (artwork genre)
  • Keywords: identity, other, the, perception, representation, third world/non-western culture