By Michael Sicinski
Based on the work of Surrealist anthropologist Michel Leiris (in particular his controversial volume L’Afrique fantôme), this featurette by post-colonial artist Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc begins in the theoretical realm and soon veers into the dense thicket of fantasy. Sector IX B centres on an academic researcher (Betty Tchomanga) who travels to the IFAN Museum in Dakar to complete work on a stalled book project. Having studied Leiris, Betty is compelled by his assertion that only by embracing absolute subjectivity (and in many cases, the assistance of hallucinogenic drugs) can an observer achieve objective knowledge of the Other. And so, as part of her work at IFAN, we see Betty thumbing through tomes, examining artifacts, and swallowing mysterious black capsules. Before long, Abonnenc depicts the museum space as a kind of Apichatpongian living forest of desire. Sector IX B is a shrewd, droll, and ultimately vibrant work that treats the problem of the museum as a dialectical one. Fragments of cultures are labelled, indexed, and severed from their use value, but is this better or worse than treating them as fetishes or talismans in some always-asymptotic attempt at reviving the past? Abonnenc perhaps postulates that knowledge, especially of the so-called Other, can only be grasped as a permanent crisis.