« To take back the gold that was stolen from us – this is the object of our actions. »
Lettres du Voyant is a documentary-fiction about spiritism and technology in contemporary Ghana, which attempts to uncover a mysterious practice called "Sakawa" - internet scams mixed with voodoo magic. Tracing back the scammers’ stories to the times of Ghanaian independence, the film proposes Sakawa as a form of anti-neocolonial resistance.
The film takes the form of a voyage through a network of digitised mine shafts that lead the viewer to each of the film’s locations; a gold mine, an e-waste dump, a voodoo ritual or a discotheque. A character recounts a story through reading a series of letters that he has written to the film’s author - letters that speak about the colonial history of Ghana, of gold, of technology.
A film by Louis Henderson
A Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains production
copyright: Louis Henderson/Le Fresnoy
TEXT FROM CPHDOX:
Internet voodoo is on the rise in Ghana, and so is a new industry, where young workers extract not just metals, but also bank details and holiday photos from hard drives that are sent to be scrapped. A kind of reverse archaeological mining, where the metals, which were initially exported to the West, now return in the form of antiquated hardware. All this according to the Ghanian storyteller, who presents his country in this 'letters from a visionary', which form the narrative backbone (and title) of Henderson's hypnotic film, which illustrates his dizzying points with the open mind of a wandering spectator and with graphical 3D reconstructions of underground mine systems. Past European colonists stole Ghana's gold and forced their Christian religion upon them. Now, historical amnesia is being avenged. The young, Le Fresnoy-trained director Louis Henderson is preoccupied by the dark forces set free by post-colonial consciousness, and in his current film works he renews the 'ethno-fictional' hybrid tradition to let the real and the imaginary stand in perfect balance in a documentary depiction of historical situations. Keep an eye out for this man - it is hard not to.