The Shape of a Pocket Film screening and artists talk: To dream a more liveable place… a performance in anticipation of… with KITSO LYNN LELLIOTT

Date: Thursday, June 27th

Time: 19:00 – 21:00

With its first international screening, visiting artist from Johannesburg, Kitso Lynn Lelliot will engage the audience in ethical questions brought about by the film’s continuing evolution, in which she asks who has the power to police history, the stories that make us? The filmic fragment is an exploration of how one might be in space and be in time after a rupture. It considers being and taking up space while being variously marked in the negative against the image of the subject, thus being becomes an act of contestation against negation. It is a meditation on the oscillations of this refusal against refusal, considered within and beyond human centric temporal horizons. The piece works to tackle the historic and ongoing ruptures that dislocate black bodies from being: belonging in space, in time, in History. Evocations of the turn of the twentieth century partially locate the work at a time when the production of these unbelongings were playing out with acute and long lasting resonance in the southern regions of the African continent. Here, a woman known by the name of Sara finds that she has lost her grounding, the earth beneath her feet having been ripped away. She boards a ship that takes her across oceans to lands that, though distant, are still a place on earth.


KITSO LYNN LELLIOTT’S practice moves between video installation, film and writing. She is preoccupied with enunciations from spaces beyond epistemic power and the crisis such disobedient articulations cause to hegemony. Her work is an enactment of enunciating from elision and between historically subjugated subjectivities, privileging South-South relations that are in relation to yet imaginatively and epistemologically unmediated by the Global North. Lelliott was an artist in residence with the Centre for Humanities Research at UWC from 2019 until 2022 when she took up a senior lectureship with the University of the Witwatersrand. 


No RSVP required
Event held onsite: Donaustr. 84, 12043 Berlin

The Shape of a Pocket 

The Shape of a Pocket is a platform dedicated to articulations of voids and absences in social, epistemic and geographic landscapes. 

The pocket is an intimate hollow, a ‘pocket of resistance’ or a vessel that carries multiple materials and stories. The ‘shape’ alludes to the imaginary lines that are drawn between the unknown and the known, and to what is revealed or obscured, connected or separated by these demarcations. The void is both the deepest trench and the horizon. 

The project confronts absence not as an epistemological deficit, but as rich and generative in its indeterminacy. This does not mean that the unknown is a resource to be mined, located or exploited, but rather it is a necessary resistance to Western thought’s demand for clarity and unambiguous identification. This call to turn towards the unknown relates to ‘absences’ that include enforced silences, extractive practices, linguistic gaps, and erasures in archives and culture. In all its shapeshifting mutations, the void resists totalising systems and makes way for a multiplicity and an excess that cannot be contained by the constraints of absolutes or certainty. 

Colonialism uses the notion of ‘empty’ space as a pretext to justify the occupation of land, genocide and subjugation. The continuous coloniality of societal structures requires an undoing of this claim over emptiness. Capitalism exploits and extracts human labour and geological matter, causing cultural erasure and ecological catastrophe, with dire consequences for human and more-than-human life. This project aims to unlearn and undo the claim that coloniality makes on ostensibly empty spaces, and to challenge the persistent omissions in hegemonic historical narratives and divisive identitarian determinations. While the concept of the ‘void’ speaks of absence, it cannot be reduced to a mere abstraction, rather, it is material and situated in the world: it has flesh, geography and history. 

There are also voids and obfuscations whose contours are less easy or impossible to grasp but must be preemptively imagined to not perpetuate patterns of erasure. Following Saidiya Hartman’s approach, this project embraces the challenge of telling impossible stories while amplifying the impossibility of their telling. In this sense, The Shape of a Pocket works with the double bind of the necessity to be present to absences while resisting imposed silencing. Depending on positionality and context, silence or absence can be constructed as spaces for emancipatory political imagination and relationality or, conversely, as sites of oppression and erasure. 

Together we ask: Can we trace the contours of these so-called voids without reenacting the violences of cartography? Who holds the capacity for articulation, about what, and from where? If, as Glissant says, the abyss serves as an alluvium for metamorphoses, how can we contribute to the emergence of languages that are born from places of irreparable trauma and loss and give rise to forms of solidarity, resistance and transformation? 

The Shape of a Pocket is an invitation to reimagine our margins, shared unknowns, cavities, and rifts as meaningful grounds for rupture and connectivity. 

The platform runs from May to November 2024 and offers a series of encounters with Kandis Friesen, Jessica Zïada Korp, Kitso Lynn Lelliot, Listening at Pungwe with Memory Biwa and Robert Machiri, Hn. Lyonga, Constanza Mendoza, Eleni Mouzourou, Miguel Rodríguez-Casellas, Promona Sengupta and Miya Yoshida. The project culminates in an exhibition, opening on 31 October 2024. The Shape of a Pocket is initiated by Shoufay Derz and Talya Lubinsky at The Institute for Endotic Research.

You are welcome to contact us with any questions you may have. All events are free and open to the public.

*The Shape of a Pocket is the title of a book by John Berger published in 2002.

With support from the Berlin Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhalt.