In MAHILA (women), the filmmaker steps between different worlds, going from West to East, from urban to rural surroundings. Her encounters with the experiences and observations of rural Rajasthani women provoke reflection on the process of empowerment. In an artistic ethnography we see and hear how they are using education, technology and politics to redefine their destinies. As we trace the film-maker’s memories we are taken into questions about story-telling. How are the women fighting to get their stories heard? Can the filmmaker tell other women’s stories?
Signals from the South, Muu Gallery Helsinki 2009
Finnish Cultural Institute, Damascus , november 2009
Brigittines Brussels, 5 december 2009 19u
Lazareti Dubrovnik (croatia), 10 december 2009 19u
Netwerk Aalst, 17 december 2009 19u
okno Brussels, 17 january 2010 20u
Pixelache Festival Helsinki 2010
medialab Vienna, 20 february 2010 20u
happy new festival Kortrijk , may 2010
KASK Gent, june 2010
Soft Borders exhibition Sao Paulo, october 2011
Annemie Maes is invited by Ana Valdés (Maraya.org) to present the Politics of Change project in Damascus, Syria. Presentations (lectures and screenings) are scheduled at the Finnish Cultural Institute in Damascus.
The Finnish Institute in Damascus, maintained by the Foundation of the Finnish Institute in the Middle East, is an academic institute, which promotes, in particular, the research and teaching of the languages, cultures and religions of the Middle East. The institute focuses its operation on the Arab world and its fringe areas with high cultural and historical significance. It has permanent representatives in Syria and Egypt.
The institute’s main function is to organise academic courses, lectures and seminars for undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as researchers. The aim is to promote widespread cooperation in the fields of education and research, and to improve intercultural dialogue.
The headquarters of the institute are located in a building in the Old Town of Damascus, a Unesco World Heritage site. The building has a seminar room, an exhibition hall, a reference library, and lodging facilities for visiting researchers and students.
The ‘Alternative Economy Cultures’ (alt.econ.cult) programme on April 3rd & 5th brings together leading international and Finnish thinkers, cultural practitioners and activists, to present alternative economic visions.
The seminar aims to tackle not just the financial, but the social, cultural, institutional, human, material, emotional and intellectual forms of capital. Not just about individual gain, boosting, balancing or bail-outs, but common good, peer-to-peer, shared wealth and appropriate reward for effort involved.
Cultural production and social-networking, especially the digital online versions of the recent decade, have promoted new ideas of wealth, opportunity, scarcity, and exchange. Importantly, it also reminds us of old ones. Surrounding those ideas are developing practices, cultures and entrpreneurship.
all info: seminar alternative economy cultures
Summer 2006, a few months after I met Mr. Vasu Srinivasan at the Luminous Green Symposium organised by foAM, I decided to develop a project on the Women Engineers of the Barefoot College and the Women of Tilonia.
Diving into the matter, I quickly made up that a documentary movie had to become the central issue in the project. My interest for the women Solar Engineers and the Mahila Samiti women of Tilonia comes out of a personal involvement that links art, women empowerment, ecology, technology and social engagement.
Introduced to the Barefoot College project, I was struck by certain similarities between my own relatively protected work environment and the specificities of the trainings/workshops in Rajasthan.
Okno, a Brussels-based artist-run organisation for media, art and technology, focuses on social art and community-based technological research projects. To be more specific: current projects research the implementation of sustainable energies as solar/photovoltaic and wind energy in community-based city- and meshnetworks and public space art projects.
Belgian and international artists work together in a DIY-approach and during the decentralised workshops the sharing of knowledge is an important factor to come to valuable results.
The solar engineer training at Barefoot College, India has a similar structure: productivity results from collective work; the learning environment is open and decentralised and knowledge is passed on in a bottom-up and hands-on way.
From start on, the decision to step into the solar project is community-based. The village selects and delegates its future women engineers for a 6 months training, and every village family engages itself to pay its share in the remuneration of the engineers to set up and maintain the village solar system. January 2008 I went a first time to Barefoot College to meet and interview the solar engineers. There I discovered that the solar workshops are only a very small part in a much bigger story concerning the empowerment of the women in question.
The training is non-structured and informal, incorporating on-the-job learning while earning.
– learning from doing and mutual interaction, not through formal classroom teaching
– emphasis on practical experience; little or no importance given to paper qualifications
– the belief is that the educational system today cannot judge the worth and value of persons. Passing exams, getting degrees is no guarantee that they are either valuable or necessary for the development of rural communities. The crucial question is: can they work with their hands?
– to prevent environmental degradation and to make communities sustainable, the answer is for them to finally depend on each other and use existing village skills for their own development.
– Tilonia’s role is to facilitate a process that allows for self reliance, self respect and dignity. It is not to increase dependency on urban professionals and skills. Continue reading
For videos on the nightschools and eductation, check the category ‘media’.
Nightschools are set up to give working children a chance on education. Most of the pupils are girls whom in daytime have to herd the cattle or fetch water for the households. After their daytime jobs, they attend the nightschool from 7pm till 9.30pm. The girls, between 6 and 13 years of age, reacted all in a very shy way on our visit. It took them a while to regain their natural behaviour and to forget our presence.
Est-ce qu’il se passe autre chose, quand on est dans le documentaire et qu’une femme, un homme, un enfant vous confient un bout de leur vie?
Ils se confient. Ils se confient à vous. Je ne sais pas pourquoi ils vous confient tout ça. C’est leur secret.
Peut-être parce que vous êtes étrangère. Peut-être parce que vous allez disparaître de leur vie.
Ou simplement parce que vous êtes là ce jour là à la bonne distance.
[ Chantal Akerman, autoportrait en cinéaste ]