Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi, From the Pole to the Equator, 1986. Courtesy the artists

This experimental film is drawn from the 1910 archives of Luca Comerio, a pioneering Italian documentary filmmaker who photographed ‘exotic’ peoples from the North Pole to the Equator. The spectral images suggest the disturbing theme of Western man as predator.

From the Pole to the Equator is the actual name of the documentary compiled in the late 1920s by filmmaker Luca Comerio, which drew on footage from around the globe to celebrate the vitality and achievements of European colonialism – most of all Italian fascism. Using this material, as well as other footage shot or collected by Comerio, Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi refashioned Comerio’s work in order to tease out the ideology written upon –and between–every image. The fact that so much of the film had begun to decay gives it a layer of abstraction and serves as a comment on the contingent nature of the images and their ideology and, in Gianikian’s words, “on the violence of colonialism as it plays itself out in different situations and spheres.”

The screening was part of the Festival’s Postcolonial Cinema Weekend, which explored the complex histories and material traces of past colonial inequalities through contemporary filmmaking.

Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi have created an incomparable documentary oeuvre consisting of over 40 films since the 1970s, whose rare beauty and integrity set them apart. Working at the intersections of history, the archive, the ready made and re-animation, their films are comprised of found footage mesmerizingly manipulated in order to give it new life and meaning: spectral apparitions that exhume forgotten and often shameful historical trespasses as they evocatively illuminate our own era.

Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi’s landmark experimental work From the Pole to the Equator, 1986, re-defined the documentary form and introduced recurrent themes in their work: war and peace, genocide and colonialism, death and cinema, the body and embodiment. Their techniques involve the manipulation of rare footage through re-photography, hand-tinted colour and altering film speed, to produce work that explores the fragility of the cinematic image and traces of historical ideologies.

The two have presented work at major international film festivals including Cannes, Rotterdam and Venice, and at leading museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Tate Modern, London.


Curated by AV Festival. Regional Premiere.

From the Pole to the Equator + Q&A
Dir. Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi

(includes all screenings on Sat 8 and Sun 9 March only)

Sun 9 March 2014, 8.30pm

Star and Shadow Cinema

Stepney Bank
Newcastle NE1 6QG 

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Year: 1986
Runtime: 101min + Q&A
Country: Italy/West Germany


Programme Notes