Western 4.33 by Aryan Kaganof, previously known in the Netherlands as Ian Kerkhof, consists of two histories that arise in the memory of a truck driver on a journey from South Africa to Namibia. The scene of a young African woman walking, shot in color and slow motion, suggests a broken love affair. It is intersected with images filmed in black and white of another, much more painful history: that of the Herero people in Namibia who were decimated by the German colonizers in concentration camps. The camps would later be the model for camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka. The film’s title refers not only to the “western” genre so popular in America, in which the genocide of another people is heroicized, but also to a piece by the minimalist composer John Cage. In Cage’s work, a pianist sits at a piano for 4 minutes and 33 seconds without playing; the same length of silence is used in the film’s soundtrack, which is oppressive in every respect. The jury that awarded Kaganof the first prize for the best African video at the 12th Festival of African Cinema in Milan wrote: “A reflection recorded in physical pain and in the memory, where images and sounds, the photography and editing, combine to build up a great sensorial and political experience, for a new way of observing and experiencing the relationship with time and space.”
Aryan Kaganof, born 1964, lives and works in Johannesburg. Recent exhibitions (selection): Recent Works, artSPACE, Durban, 2005; Sanctuary, Muti Gallery, Johannesburg, 2004; Post SMS, Illuseum, Amsterdam, 2003; Sanctuary Mental Space, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, 2003.