MAD | Music/Art/Design
Renaud Barret (Benda Bilili!, VIFF 10) takes us once again to Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in this rousing look at art and subversion. Crowded, impoverished, and teeming with street life, the city is also home to a burgeoning performance art scene - one that exists not in the gallery but outside, without official permission, for the benefit of whoever wishes to engage. Using discarded materials to make costumes, sculptures, and more, artists walk the streets of the troubled metropolis, presenting themselves and their works to the public.
There’s some powerful stuff to see here: the featured performers don’t shy away from depicting the poverty, horror, and oppression of their nation’s past and present. Some of the performances make institutionally sanctioned "conceptual art" look dry and tame by comparison: artist Majestik creates a literal bloodbath, and, in one raw and cathartic scene, the wonderfully named Kill Bill lays out TVs and computer monitors in the street and demolishes them with a sledgehammer. Barret captures these brave souls and their work with a fitting sense of urgency; System K is a vibrant, immersive, and passionate work of cinema.