No Archive Can Restore You (2020)
The former Nigerian Film Unit building was one of the first self-directed outposts of the British visual propaganda engine, the Colonial Film Unit, stands empty on Ikoyi Road, Lagos, in the shadow of today’s Nigerian Film Corporation building. The rooms are full of dust, cobwebs, stopped clocks, and rusty and rotting celluloid film cans. Amongst these cans, a long-lost classic of Nigerian filmmaking, Shehu Umar (1976), was found in 2015. The films housed in this building are hard to see because of their condition, but also perhaps because people do not want to see them. They reveal a colonial residue that is echoed in walls of the building itself.
Taking its title from the 2018 Juliette Singh book, No Archive Can Restore You depicts the spatial configuration of this colonial archive, which lies just out of view, in the heart of the Lagosian cityscape. Despite its invisibility, it contains purulent images that we cannot, will not, or choose not to see. The film imagines ‘lost’ films from the archive in distinctive soundscapes, juxtaposed with images of the abandoned interior and exteriors of the building. This is an exploration into the ‘sonic shadows’ that colonial moving images continue to generate.
All images are stills from No Archive Can Restore You (2020). Courtesy of the artist.