The documentary film Chinafrika.mobile is tracking the life cycle of a mobile phone. From its birth in the mines in the Kolwezi, DR Congo, to its manufacturing in Chinese factories in the Pearl River Delta to its use and death in the markets and recycling dumps in Lagos, Nigeria, the mobile phone camera sends images of its global journey to the viewer's mobile phone display. It was filmed by miners, factory employees, dealers and electronic scrap collectors at the original locations in Congo, China and Nigeria. Four short documentary films show the work on the device that shapes our everyday life.
China and Africa act as driving forces for the economic, political and cultural future of globalization and the mobile phone is their important link. Starting with the extraction of raw materials in Sambia and Kongo to the production near the Chinese Pearl River Delta, devices are moved on to Alaba market in Lagos, the largest distributor in West Africa for electric devices produced in China. After use, they are left at African electronic waste deposits. What role, however, is left for Europe? By means of an artistic format ranging between documentary, city tour and performance, artists from Africa, China and Germany open a perspective on the Chinafrican future of capital. Since 2013 Jochen Becker and Daniel Kötter have done research on cultural effects of the economic and political connections between China and the African continent. Their performance Chinafrika. mobile. has been produced especially for Kunstfest Weimar.
WITH • Marcel Kapepe, Jean Jaques Kalonji, Paulin Koka, Jerry Mutomb, Sandrine Longolongo, Edmond Mutombo in Congo. • Min Mo, Zehnwei Jiang, Tang Jiandong, Chibuzo Goodluck, Brown, Allyn Gaestel, Boping Zhang in China. • Anthony Bankole, Deola Adekunle, Adeniyi Ojikutu, Bukola Adebayo in Nigeria.
The film Chinafrika.mobile is a subproject of a four-year research and art project that I conducted between 2014 and 2017 with curator and author Jochen Becker in nine African countries between Algeria and South Africa, as well as in Hong Kong and China. In 2017 - under the title Chinafrika. Under construction - it resulted in an exhibition in the gallery for contemporary art Leipzig with 40 African, Chinese and European artists. Over a period of four years, we have studied the growing political, economic and cultural encounters between China and the African continent, and what this could mean for a repositioning in the European self-image. The Sino-African phenomenon is not just a geostrategic event among governments and corporations that is leading to a massive expansion of infrastructure on the African continent, and also to the deliberate use of soft power - what some adamantly call neo-colonialism - but it is also a mover of individual lifestyles of migrant workers, retailers and students, who can move much more freely between the two continents than on their way to Europe. In the course of this rather broad research, the smartphone has repeatedly been a matchmaker in its various aspects. Not only that African economies in rural and urban contexts have undergone fundamental transformations thanks to affordable Chinese smartphones. Also as a container of raw materials captured from African soil, as well as a lifestyle object or as a supplier of recyclable material, it plays the central role between the continents. Not to mention that in this sense, every European smartphone user in his pants pocket carries a piece of China and Africa with him. From this realization, the path was no longer far to the decision, contrary to my other cinematic practice, to leave the tracking of the life of a smartphone to those who make part of this path in their daily work: the miners in Kolwezi, the factory employees in Shenzhen, the African smartphone retailers in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the African smartphone retailers in Guangzhou and Ikeja Compuer Village, and the scrap collector of the Owode Onirin market in Lagos, Nigeria. The workers' private smartphone camera thus films the work on itself, its own birth in blows to the rock in the miner's cave, and its own death in the hammer's blows, which breaks it down into its recyclable pieces. The allegedly linear narrative of the life cycle is only the occasion for exemplary and episodic insights into everyday working life in the context of complex sino-african networks.