'It is 10 in the morning. It’s raining. A violin player came with his monochord instrument, and plays Haouka music. The men are waiting.'
Pourquoi une Chien? recounts the narrative voiceover of French filmmaker Jean Rouch's ethnographic film, Les Maîtres Fous (The Mad Masters, 1955), that documents the Ghanaian Hauka cult, whose members would convene outside the city to enter a trance-like state and become possessed of the spirits of their colonial administrators - the true ‘mad masters’ of the film’s title, with the Hauka playing gods of strength or ‘masters of madness’. The aggressive, parodic ritual culminates in the sacrificing and cooking of a dog, to prove the Hauka's strength over men, 'white or black.'
In Pourquoi une Chien? the subtitled narrative is sped up to a barely legible pace and scrolled along the bottom of a black screen. This frantic tale is intermittently disrupted by intimate shots of a small, scruffy dog, seen quivering and twitching under a basic, theatrical lighting. The arm of a white male appears in the second half of the video, which is revealed as the 'pacemaker' of the dogs rhythmic movements. The disjunction between word and image becomes more restless as the violent ritual unfolds, suggesting the necessity of a repeat viewing to counter the visual collision.
'Then the Locomotive leaves, and night falls on the red scarves, on the soiled clothes, on the Governor’s palace.'
HD video, duration 13:58 mins, 2010
Acting by Guinness the Dog, filming and lighting by Jack Dixon, additional assistance Barry Walsh.
Screenings: Victor & Hester publication launch, Gambetta, Glasgow 2010, MK Calling, Milton Keynes Gallery, 2013.
View the full video at: http://vimeo.com/emmettwalsh/pourquoi-une-chien