TRIBUNALS - She*- Mangrove Archives
Nathalie Anguezomo Mba Bikoro
TRIBUNALS - She*-Mangrove Archives is a series of fictional court cases. The interventions are based on practices of allying with the living and the dead as proposals for transformational justice. Built on research of crime evidence files, the cases are an observation of institutional archival erasures. How are stories rewritten, especially in conflict with the personal experiences of victims and of those accused? How can we practice transformational justice in courtrooms based on perpetuated colonial laws?
The sound installation is a temporary set up that provides an overview of original and fictional case files in relation to unconsidered archival material – personal experiences and fictional mytho-biographies. By operating inside and outside the field of legal language, it presents modes of aesthetic counter-narratives transforming human rights violations through invocations and unacknowledged testimonies. It brings together the voices of disregarded witnesses and their testimonies in a court setting to ask: Who should be held accountable for the violence and crimes against humanity?
The Black Guadalupian philosopher Gauthier Tancons claimed that the process of leaving the system towards a decolonizing moment affects the present but by remaining concealed in a dark space. This dark space is what he terms the mangrove – an uncertain territory of changing soils, far from solid ground. The decolonial space is a constant movement of passing through the present and its own imposed narratives of systems of injustice, from which the oppressed body constantly flees. This escape is reflected through its own imaginary and accompanied by a practice of searching for its own archives.
The numerous cases negotiated in the context of the work reflect dismissed or unfinished trials including re-opening cases of Luke Collingwood, Jesko von Puttkamer, Ralph Zürn, perpetrators in the colonial system of human trafficking and manslaughter; the case of the first Herero woman Kaera Kahitjene Ida Getzen in Namibia to open a sexual abuse case in 1899 against Frekkie Getzen to the German courts; the first case in Germany for working rights for Black employers by Mdachi bin Sharifu; the case of Tamara Lanier’s claims of copyright breach against Harvard University for utilizing the image of her ancestor Renty; the 1951 UN petition “We Charge Genocide” initiated by Paul Robeson; and the ongoing trials for the murders of Rita Awour Ojunge and Oury Jalloh.