West Africa’s Guinea-Bissau declared unilaterally independence in 1973 and was recognized internationally in 1975 along with the other former Portuguese colonies. Luta ca caba inda (The Struggle Is Not Over Yet) is the title of a documentary film on the country’s post-independence left unfinished in 1980. Even in its fragmentary form, it is but one of several testimonies of a decade of militant cinema in the country, as part of the people’s struggle for independence from Portuguese colonialism, between 1963 and 1974, and the subsequent nation-building.
The remains of this period of politically-engaged cinema, including finished and unfinished Guinean films, audio recordings, and film prints donated by countries that supported the struggle, are archived at the Instituto Nacional de Cinema e Audiovisual (INCA) in Bissau. Given its deteriorated condition, in 2012, in collaboration with the Guinean filmmakers Sana na N’Hada, Flora Gomes and Suleimane Biai and with institutional support from Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin, the artist Filipa César and the curator Tobias Hering embarked on a long-term project, titled Luta ca caba inda (2012-2015), aimed at re-accessing this archive.
The entire assemblage of sound and footage was digitalized without previous restoration, i.e. without attempting to bring the ruined footage to a hypothetical original state. This decision transcended the lack of financial means for proper treatment of the celluloid. Rather, it came from an interest in the inscription in the image of the material decomposition of the celluloid. Since then, in the course of the Luta ca caba inda project a series of discursive events and public screenings have been dedicated to activating the archive.
Upon inhabitants’s invitation, the short-video Compost Archive by filmmakers and visual artists Filipa César and Louis Henderson comes out of the conference 4th Encounters Beyond History: Luta ca caba inda – An Archive in Relation, held at Centro José de Guimarães in Portugal in December of 2015. For the 4th Encounters, a series of thinkers, artists and filmmakers were invited to access a selection of 72 files from the archive. Compost Archive is based on Louis Henderson’s contribution for the conference, entitled Compost in the Créole Garden: The Archive as a Multispecies Assemblage, and proposes a navigation through the materiality of the footage, sounds and accessing apparatuses, assembled together with excerpts from the participant’s statements.