Artist Projects

Speaking in Tongues


Christopher Harris

Speaking in Tongues is a hand-processed 16mm film inspired by Ishmael Reed’s novel Mumbo Jumbo. Mumbo Jumbo freely mixes historical, social and political events with fiction in an effect that is self-consciously anachronistic, employing a variety of literary and visual conventions. Speaking in Tongues takes its inspiration from the novel’s themes as well as its polyglot structure. The film uses original footage interspersed with found footage taken from documentaries, cartoons, Hollywood movies and burlesque peep shows to obliquely reference characters and events in Mumbo Jumbo. Harris employs optical printing in conjunction with photo-chemical and direct cinema manipulations such as dye transfers, hole punching, scratching and painting directly on the filmstrip. The film aims to produce a counter-narrative to Western hegemony over African culture in the New World.