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Koyo Kouoh and Rasha Salti: Saving Bruce Lee: African and Arab cinema in the era of Soviet cultural diplomacy (Introduction)


The research project by curators Koyo Kouoh and Rasha Salti spans three generations of filmmakers who studied in the USSR at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) from the 1960s to the late 1980s.

By bringing to light their little-known stories in Moscow and in other regions of the former Soviet Union, as well as influences that contributed to the aesthetic and ideological language of their films, the project represents a major breakthrough in the understanding of African and Arab film studies. On July 30, 2015, Koyo Kouoh, Rasha Salti, Catarina Simão, Ali Essafi, Filipa César, and Philippe Rekacewicz took part in a seminar that reflected on the academic canon of film studies. Saving Bruce Lee is an attempt to re-write the cinematic canons and explore the place these "third world" VGIK graduates occupy within it by acknowledging and researching Soviet stylistic influences in their work. 

The project was presented in the exhibition Field Research: A Progress Report.   

Deadline: 2013-2015

Researchers: Koyo Kouoh, Rasha Salti


Koyo Kouoh (b. 1967, Cameroon; lives and works in Dakar and Basel) is an exhibition maker and the founding artistic director of RAW Material Company, a center for art, knowledge and society in Dakar. She is the curator of the education program at 1:54, Contemporary African Art Fair in London. She served as curatorial advisor for documenta 12, Kassel (2007) and documenta 13, Kassel (2012). Her most recent projects include Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality and the Body in the work of Six African Women Artists, WIELS, Lunds Konsthal, 49N6E - FRAC Lorraine (2015). Besides a sustained theoretical and exhibition program at RAW Material Company, she maintains a dynamic international curatorial, advisory, and judging activity.

Rasha Salti (b. 1969, Toronto) lives in Beirut and works between Paris and Toronto) is a curator, writer and researcher. She is presently an international programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival. From 2004 to 2010 she was the film programmer and creative director of ArteEast in New York. Salti is the co-founder of the History of Arab Modernities in the Visual Arts Study Group, a research platform focused around the social history of art in the Arab world. Salti’s essays have appeared in publications such as Afterall, The London Review of Books, and Naqd and she edited the book Insights into Syrian Cinema: Essays and Conversations with Filmmakers (2006).

Transitory Parerga: Access and Inclusion in Contemporary ArtIssue 01 of The Garage Journal Learn more

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