The School of Mutants (SN/MR/FR)
Residency period: September-November 2024
Initiated in Dakar in 2018 by Senegalese-Mauritanian artist and filmmaker Hamedine Kane and French artist, environmental engineer, and curator Stéphane Verlet-Bottéro, The School of Mutants is a nomadic collaborative art and research platform that involves artists, craftspeople, activists, theorists, and curators. Begun as an inquiry into the role of universities, public school projects, and academic utopia in post-independence Senegal and West Africa, The School of Mutants mobilizes spaces for the non-hierarchical production, transmission, and pluralization of knowledge. Through the production of video works, publications, exhibitions, assemblies, and training courses, The School of Mutants addresses the socio-cultural, ecological, and aesthetic mutations of reality. The project links the legacy of the short-lived Université des Mutants, founded in Senegal in 1977, to other utopias of the decade, as well as to literary and theoretical reflections on the epistemologies of mutation. The School of Mutants offers to collectively deconstruct and reconstruct the seminal ideologies of the teaching experiments that contributed to shifting paradigms and refocusing discourses on the African continent.
In addition to numerous presentations in Dakar, recent works by The School of Mutants have been exhibited at the Berlin Biennale (2022), the Centre Pompidou in Metz (2021), Sheffield DocFest (2021), the Taipei Biennale (2020), and the Oslo Architecture Triennial (2019).
Initiated in spring 2023 with the filming of several sequences that followed the removal and transit in the public space of West African objects from the Musée Ethnographique de Neuchâtel collection, en route to a new repository, The School of Mutants’ film project Réveiller les Fantômes aims to question the legacy of the 1931 Dakar-Djibouti ethnographic mission, popularized by Michel Leiris in the film L’Afrique Fantôme. Pursuing their reflections on the restitution and re-amplification of Senegal’s material archives and on modern-colonial regimes of visibility and invisibility, the collective’s residency project will invoke the words of the liberated statues, placing them in dialogue with other sites of imprisonment, secrecy, and concealment (of bodies, capital, artworks, etc.) in Switzerland’s natural and urban landscape.