Broken View

Broken View

A poetic essay film on the colonial gaze and the magic lantern. This early type of image projector was used in Belgian colonial propaganda, showcasing the good works of the Church, State and industry. Lantern projections were an effective way of selling the colonial project to a somewhat reluctant Belgian public. However fragile images made of glass may be, many thousands survived. Often lavishly hand colored, these tainted, horribly beautiful images helped shape the ways in which Europeans viewed, thought of, spoke about, and treated the colonial other. This tension between aesthetic experience and the reverberations of colonial ideology is central to the film. In composing an associative fabric of assemblages and collages, the film attempts to map the colonial gaze from a broken view, how it persists across time and shapes the way we view, think of, and speak about the past.


Broken View doesn’t shy away from the ambiguity and appeal of the hand-coloured photos which were used to impose the racist discourse of the Belgian colonial nightmare. Instead, it captures the diabolical essence of the latter, conveying its mind-numbing complexity, in an accumulation of quotations and overexposure of images and texts which turn it into a jam-packed and painful essay, as well as an aesthetically exhilarating film.”

Roberto Oggiano1


“Both the essayistic montage and the collage, the poetics I turned to in this film, bring together elements that often have little to do with one another. They do this, as the writer Brian Dillon wrote about the essay form, ‘in such a way that the scandal or shock of their proximity arrives alongside a conviction that they have always belonged together’. So, these images must be accompanied by other images, brought into relation with other, maybe even seemingly unconnected images. These relationships are not comparisons or equations, but the threads of an unfinished fabric, a continuous work of de- and reassembly, a broader, perhaps speculative contextualization. Assemblages are formed in which the figures are brought into each other’s orbit, within a wider frame and into another timeline than those of the photographs they were taken out of, inserting them into new constellations, trying to find new rhythms. In doing so, I hope to make visible some of the brushstrokes with which they were originally made, the power relations these images texturized and helped (helplessly) to fabulate, the purposes they were to serve. The film is an essay, an atlas of sorts, or an album where fragments of images and language exchange their shortcomings, what words can show and what images can say.”

Hannes Verhoustraete2


“Er zijn twee spanningsvelden waarrond ik de beelden componeer, assembleer, collages maak. Vele beelden zijn onmiskenbaar prachtig en met een grote toewijding gemaakt. Enerzijds is er dus de spanning tussen de esthetische ervaring die de beelden teweegbrengen en het bewustzijn van de koloniale ideologie die de beelden uitdragen. Anderzijds is er de spanning tussen de persoonlijke beleving en herinnering en het beeld dat in het gemeenschappelijke bewustzijn leeft van de kolonie, toen en nu. Er is enerzijds de schandalige schoonheid en het schandelijke geluk, niet minder gelukkig omdat het een schande is, niet minder schandelijk omdat het geluk is.”

Hannes Verhoustraete