Neil Beloufa


Neil Beloufa, Kempinski, 2007, Video, 14 min, Still, © Galerie LHKThe video work Kempinski by Neil Beloufa is a clever contemporary tale. Like wise apostles, several lay actors, standing in the neon lights of the periphery of Mali’s capital Bamako at night, describe their ideas of how the future will be. They use the present tense and talk directly into the camera. A young man says that he lives together with hundreds of oxen as the only human being while the neon light in his hand illuminates the light-brown heads of the animals surrounding him.

Another man talks about fantastic creatures, speaking cars, mobile houses that roam across continents or a cliff moving from one continent to the next. Another has critical thoughts about civilisation and imagines a life without cars and telephones. The metaphorical images of a life in which there no longer seems to be a difference between humans, animals and things also include humorous science-fiction references to media such as telepathy and the speed of light. However, the speakers also have serious thoughts about already existing as well as imagined technologies. The thus resulting narration is not linear. However, this is exactly what the work intends to do – to irritate the expectations and associations of western viewers. The video seems to open up space for reflection in the gap between these discrepant ways of life. The negotiations on climate change are exactly about this adjustment of lifestyles to which Neil Beloufa's video refers.

Neil Beloufa, Kempinski, 2007, Video, 14 min, Still, © Galerie LHKWhere do our ideas of how the future will look come from? Are the scenes about mysticism or science fiction? Is a doctor or a fictional person sitting in the examination room? Three bright floodlights diffusely illuminate a stadium. By glowing so closely next to each other, the three circles of light suggest signals of a UFO. Some sounds are pierced by cheeping noises as if simulating an extraterrestrial transmission, as if the speakers were being recorded for an extraterrestrial audience. Or is the western viewer the alien in this context? None of the actors in Neil Beloufa’s video believes in the postmodern motto “everything is possible” anymore. But still their ideas of the future are influenced by exactly this motto.

So what is the final punch line of this tale? The last shot, a ride across the Niger bridge Les Martyrs with its urban traffic, presents the bridge as the connection between imagination and reality. Then the neon writing of the oldest European luxury hotel chain appears whose largest shareholder is the king of Thailand.

On the other side of life, where humans, animals and things all are equal, the Kempinski stands as the manifestation of a decadent, outdated life style – at least, the video protagonists do not imagine a future full of luxury. In western industrial countries, however, these achievements are only discussed under the negative aspect of having to give up some of this luxury.

Vera Tollmann
works as a freelance author and curator in Berlin

Translation: Nicola Mahoney
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V. 2009


    Neil Beloufa (*1985 in Paris/ France) studied visual arts at Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, at Cooper Union in New York and CalArts in Valencia from 2004 to 2009. His work has been displayed internationally at exhibitions and festivals including Six Feet Under (New York 2008). For Kempinski, Neil Beloufa won the ARTE Award for a European short film at Oberhausener Kurzfilmtage 2008, the Award for intercultural dialogue of the Foreign Ministry at the European Media Art Festival in Osnabrück 2008 and the Short Film Grand Prize at the IndieLisboa Filmfestival 2009. Neil Beloufa lives in Paris.