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Anglo-Ethiopian SocietyThe Anglo-Ethiopian Society

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Something for the weekend - Negus, a feature length experimental documentary exploring the legacies of Haile Selassie I, written and directed by the Italian art duo Invernomuto (Simone Bertuzzi and Simone Trabucchi) and starring an eighty year old Lee "Scratch" Perry.
The directors first came to the subject of Haile Selassie I through a nearly forgotten story told to them by a relative in their hometown of Vernasca, Northern Italy. The film is probably best described by Invernomuto themselves, who once said in an interview:

"For instance, in our area, the term Negus – which gave name to one of our most ambitious projects – was used as a denigratory term to describe unusual looking people, some sort of clownesque or messy character. This term originated from the aggressive Fascist propaganda developed during the occupation of Ethiopia. In Amharic Negus, instead, means emperor. This was a little epiphany: a slang word was testifying one of the biggest amnesia and crimes in the Italian history of the 20th century, the fascist attempt to colonize Ethiopia.
Talking to old people like Trabucchi’s grandfather, we discovered that in 1936, to celebrate the return of a wounded soldier, the community organized a macabre celebration in the main square of our hometown: they burned a puppet depicting Haile Selassie I, the last Negus of Ethiopia.
We observed this story through the lens of Rastafari, floating on the bass frequencies of reggae, dub and dancehall. A local expression took us to Addis Ababa and Kingston; we invited the dub legend Lee “Scratch” Perry to lead a counter-ritual in the same square where the effigy of Haile Selassie burnt almost a century ago."

Negus, HD video, 70 minutes, 2016 is available to watch free via the Invernomuto Vimeo channel.

Following the Jamaican tradition of versioning (to create many different versions of the same song), Negus ( 2013 - 2016) has had different outputs: video, exhibition, publication, and performance. The photo above (Photo: Giulio Boem) shows Zion, Paesaggio and Motherland in an installation at Marsèlleria, Milan (2014).

Motherland (2014) is a sculpture, forming a dialogue with Zion, Paesaggio. An LCD monitor on the floor becomes the pedestal for a copy of the lion originally placed on the staircase erected by the Fascist regime at Addis Abeba. The monitor displays a video made by Invernomuto at the National Museum of Addis Abeba, whose exhibits include Lucy, the oldest hominid.

Zion, Paesaggio, 2014
(wood, iron, digital print on wood, tropical plants (Catleia, Phalaenopsis, Oncidium, Dendrobium, Monstera, Rhipsalis))
235cm x 170cm x 200cm
Motherland, 2014
(LCD screen, polyurethane)
113cm x 67cm x 60cm

A complete portfolio of Invernomuto's work, including Negus, can be downloaded from their website (6.23 MB).

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