A Tale of Two Islands

2012 | Two-channel video installation (16 min., loop)

On March 31st 2011 the small island Mayotte in the Indian Ocean officially received the status as the 101st department of France. Since that day, a new external frontier of the European Union separates Mayotte from Anjouan, its African sister-island belonging to the Union of the Comoros. Both Islands were for a long time part of the French colonial empire. In the wake of the African decolonization movement of the 1970s, referendums were organized on both islands. While Anjouan declared its independence, the overwhelming majority in Mayotte voted for remaining a part of France. Since then, Mayotte profits from French investments into its infrastructure, education and health system, while Anjouan looks back onto a history full of coups d’états, political turmoil and economic depression. Many Anjouanais thus try to clandestinely reach their neighbor-island in nighttime crossings with small motorboats, called Kwassas.

‘A Tale of Two Islands’ describes the postcolonial space that originates from this complex political situation. It consists of two synchronized films that are projected onto two opposing screens. They chart both islands’ lifeworlds in precisely composed tableaux, revealing the invisible bonds that connect them. The installation immerses the spectator in these two realities by placing him on the very border that shapes the life on each island.


Director  |  Steffen Köhn, Paola Calvo

Producer  |  Steffen Köhn

Screenplay  |  Steffen Köhn

DoP  |  Paola Calvo

Editor  |  Steffen Köhn, Paola Calvo

Line producer |  Myriam Eichler

Translator  |  Halidi Yahaya Soidikh

Sounddesign |  Daniel Engel

Dialogue-editor |  Takis Christos Sariannidis

Sound re-recording mixer |  Alexandre Leser


Berlinale, Berlin International Film Festival, Forum Expanded section

Melancholy in Progress. Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition, Hong-Gah Museum Taipei

Monitoring, Documentary Film- and Video Festival Kassel

The New Medium III – Multi Screen Cinema, MAMI Mumbai

Vienna Art Week. Galerie Hinterland

Anthropologies Numériques. Le Cube, Paris

X-Border Art Biennial, Lulea, Sweden

DoKKa Festival Karlsruhe

Go East Festival Wiesbaden

International Short Film Festival Cairo

Danish National Museum, Copenhagen

Museum of Ethnology, Dresden

other Work