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The Wasp and the Weather

Robin Vanbesien


At former youth centre Rzoezie, founded by young folks of Moroccan and Amazigh descent in Mechelen, Belgium, some of the youngsters wrote poetry. The original authors and contemporary poets discuss these poems, probing their resonance in today’s social and political climate.

In Mechelen, in Belgian Flanders, poems ring out. Contrary to an essentialist view of the literary text, Robin Vanbesien’s film has us hear the poems whilst showing us the context in which they originated. Their history, first of all: the poems were written in the Rzoezie centre, set up in 1978 by youngsters of Moroccan and Amazigh decent, in line with principles of Paulo Freire’s “pedagogy of the oppressed”. Then, their geographical context: a peaceful but indifferent landscape. The film recreates the militant nature of these poems: far from being fixed in their written form, they are embodied, recited by voices that stumble, introduce, comment on a text that someone has chosen and made their own. The act of writing is completed by the act of reading, which itself becomes a manifesto – so when a man hears himself reciting one of his texts, he bursts into laughter at the decidedly optimistic tone of his past writings. This intensifies the power of the poems, which give a powerful voice to the feeling of not belonging. As for the images, they trace the path of light to convey the relevance of the texts: the glow of a cloudy sky on a face, the shadow of a chair, the reflections of spotlights on the furniture in the Rzoezie centre, which has now been converted into a non-political institution, where we hear a passing police siren. A multilingual sound piece completes this architecture and recounts the continued sufferings and struggles of “non-Whites” in the West.

Olivia Cooper-Hadjian

PRINT SOURCE: Robin Vanbesien,

Robin Vanbesien

Robin Vanbesien is a Brussels based filmmaker, artist and cultural worker whose films, installations and performances inhabit an explorative search for a ‘co-elaborative’ feeling and thinking that is social and material. His previous film, Under These Words (2016), and the associated book, Solidarity Poiesis: I Will Come and Steal You, constitute an account of the social poetics of solidarity work. His work has been shown at various venues internationally.

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