CTAF 2015

Prince Charles Cinema

Obscure White Messenger

Penny Siopis
Obscure White Messenger, 8mm film transferred to DVD for projection ,
© 2010 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.


7 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BY.




Penny Siopis at Prince Charles Cinema

‘My interest is in combining sequences of found 8mm film with sound and text (appearing as subtitles) to shape stories about people caught up, often tragically, in larger political and social upheavals. The elemental qualities of these stories appeal to me as they speak to questions far beyond their specific origins’ – Penny Siopis

‘This is a true story’ is a screening of four short films:  My Lovely Day (1997), Obscure White Messenger (2010), Communion (2011), The Master is Drowning (2012) by South African artist Penny Siopis. Part of the Frieze Art Fair VIP programme, the screening is to take place on Thursday 11 October (8.15-10pm) at the Prince Charles cinema. The event includes a conversation between Siopis and art historian T.J Demos.

In Siopis’ films, texts and sound draw us into an emotional space that confuses the relationship between our own inner narratives (as we watch) and those presented by the film. Emotion and its various registers are an important part of Siopis’ process as an artist. We read her films as dream-like sequences of apparently disconnected parts, their surfaces disturbed by effects of light and age. Artefacts in a digital age, and objects with a life, and material history, of their own.

The stories the films tell speak also to larger political concerns: to histories of migration, exile, colonialism, apartheid. Both Obscure White Messenger and The Master is Drowning are idiosyncratic explorations of 1960s South Africa, and apartheid in the era of notorious South African Prime Minister H.F Verwoerd (known popularly as the ‘architect of apartheid’). Siopis produces an alternative history told through the stories of Dimitri Tsafendas who assassinated Verwoerd in the House of Assembly in 1966, and David Beresford Pratt, who attempted to assassinate him in 1960. Both Tsafendas and Pratt exist as marginal figures imagined by texts and images that range from psychiatric reports to the media.

11 October 2012 - 11 October 2012