La Poule d'Ombredane
During his researches for Vita Nova, Vincent Meessen noticed in Roland Barthes's writings a recursing anecdote (aka “la poule d'Ombredane”). It tells the experiment of a psychologist who, in the 1950’s, screened a Jean Painlevé film in the bush. Congolese people to whom moving images were unknown would not be able to make difference between reality and representation.
Later, as a result of studying other experiments undertaken in the Belgian Congo by the same French psychologist (André Ombredane, 1898–1958), La Poule d’Ombredane proposes a speculative and critical narrative about the Congo T.A.T., a clinical test which, condenses the ambiguity of the colonial-modern controversy.
The Congo T.A.T. was a colonial variant of the famous North-American Thematic Aperception Test, a method of diagnostic and prognostic personality exploration. The test is based on illustrated plates to be narrated by patients. Ombredane adapted the T.A.T. test to the African context, with a view to “exploring the black mentality”.
La Poule d’Ombredane takes the Congo T.A.T. as an area of investigation by putting it to the test of its own unthinkability. The aim is to show up the ambiguities and fantasies of certain scientific projections. The film makes use of the still unexplored archival collections (films, photographs, sounds, …) of Ombredane’s heritage.
With its concern for 'counter-capture', the film will attempt the methodological and cinematic capture of a former scientific fetish.
Production by Jubilee
Co-production by Espace Khiasma (Paris)
With the financial support of Normal, KIOSK and the Flemish Government.
Special thanks to the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren,
the Cinematek and the ULB/ archives and library.