3SAI: A Rite of Passage

2008
Single-channel, high-definition video projection, stereo soundtrack
13 minutes 58 seconds
Signed, numbered and dated Blu Ray disc, certificate of authentication from Art Source South Africa
Edition 10

Introduction

This film explores rites of passage and transitions in male identity through a visual and aural representation of the head shaving “rituals” of military recruits.

Originally conceived as an artwork for a touring museum exhibition, 3SAI: A Rite of Passage is a short, cross-platform, non-narrative documentary in the experimental, non-verbal genre. The film has no plot or script and its content is neither contextualised nor site-specific. It is a sequence of video and film footage documenting the head-shaving rituals of young recruits at the Third South African Infantry Battalion (3SAI) in Kimberley, South Africa. Combined with landscape imagery, time-lapse and slow-motion cinematography, this presentation of an annual male rite of passage asks us to re-examine these moments of transition in masculine identity, and consider what is captured and what is lost ...

Format 
The viewing format of 3SAI: A Rite of Passage is a 1080p High-Definition cinematic projection from a Blu Ray video disc. The running time of the film is 13 minutes 58 seconds. Footage was captured using 35 and 16 mm film as well as High Definition video to obtain different viewing qualities and to capture frames in sufficiently high numbers per second to slow down the action to the required level. Saturated-colour 'documentary' scenes highlight a depiction of 'reality', while the more 'poetic' scenes are viewed in desaturated tones. Stereo ambient sounds of razors, immersive liminal spaces and other head-shaving paraphernalia form part of the final composed soundtrack.

Synopsis 
We open on the emptiness of the Gariep Dam – a landscape of the Karoo in the Free State province of South Africa. The image is ambiguous. The ripples on the muddy water look like ripples in desert sand. The image is shattered by the violent jolting sound of a freight-train coupling resonating with a piercing military whistle. We cut to a line-up of young recruits waiting for their obligatory hair shaving at 3SAI. We join the queue. At first we witness a monotonous sequence of indifferent head shavings – the industrial hum of an electric razor – and then gradually the rhythm of a production line which increases in pace and intensity. Suddenly at the peak of this syncopated spectacle we are cast into a twilight realm of slow-time. We break through the military machine and witness a new head shaving in slow motion and in micro-close up format. There is now an intimacy and vulnerability that was not seen before – an altered state, abstracted, de-contextualised and open to interpretation. This then fades back into the contemplative spaces of the Gariep.

The work critically engages the medium of film itself in the way it plays with time, changing the possible meanings of an experience as time slows down. What is captured? What is lost?

3SAI: A Rite of Passage is a feature of an internationally touring museum solo art exhibition entitled Transitions by Paul Emmanuel. In this art exhibition Emmanuel explores these themes using a variety of different media. The film however, is also independently screened at selected relevant international film festivals and art biennales.

AWARDS

2011
Nominee, Jury Prize, Best Experimental Film, 9th In-the-Palace International Short Film Festival, Balchik, Bulgaria 
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2010

Winner, Jury Prize, Best Experimental Short Film, 5th Sardinia International Film Festival, Sassari, Sardinia, Italy 
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2009

Winner, Jury Prize, Best Short Film, 4th Africa-in-Motion Short Film Competition, Africa-in-Motion International Short Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
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SCREENINGS

2019

Morocco, Biennale Internationale de Casablanca project space, REGARDS: PHOTGRAPHIE CAMEROUNAISE/DIGITAL AFRICA – CASABLANCA, 18 April – 15 June.

2018
South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town, Cape Town Cruise Terminal, V&A Waterfront, Strauss & Co. Fine Art Auctioneers and Consultants, CONTEMPORARY ART, January 15 – 17. 

2015

South Africa, Gauteng, Johannesburg, University of Johannesburg, FADA Gallery, TWENTY: ART IN THE TIME OF DEMOCRACY, July 11 – August 7.
South Africa, Free State, Bloemfontein, University of the Free State, Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery, REPRESENTATIONS OF OTHERNESS AND RESISTANCE, May 20 – June 19. 
South Africa, Gauteng, Pretoria Art Museum, TWENTY: ART IN THE TIME OF DEMOCRACY, May 9 – 21.
USA, North Carolina, Boone, Appalachian State University, Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, TWENTY: CONTEMPORARY ART FROM SOUTH AFRICA, July 11 2014 – February 7.
USA, Massachusetts, Boston, The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Barbara and Steven Grossman Gallery & Mrs. E. Ross Anderson Auditorium, PERMANENT WAR: THE AGE OF GLOBAL CONFLICT, January 29 – March 7.

2014

USA, North Carolina, Boone, Appalachian State University, Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, TWENTY: CONTEMPORARY ART FROM SOUTH AFRICA, July 11 – February 7, 2015.
South Africa, Johannesburg, Wits Art Museum, DOING HAIR: ART AND HAIR IN AFRICA, August 20 – November 2. 

2013

France, Angoulême, École européenne supérieure de l’image / European School of Visual Arts, CONFÉRANCE DE PAUL EMMANUEL, October 8.
France, Paris, Le Cube, ‘TOUCH ME” FRANCE-SOUTH AFRICA SEASONS 2012-2013: CONFÉRANCE DE PAUL EMMANUEL, October 1. 
France, Paris, Le Cube, LES ÉCRANS DE LA LIBERTÉ: DIGITAL ANTHROPOLOGY FESTIVAL, March, 20 – 21.
United Kingdom, London, Rio Cinema, 10th London Short Film Festival, AT HOME WITH THE LUDSKIS: MIDNIGHT MASS (Edition #7), January 12. 

2012

South Africa, Bloemfontein, Oliewenhuis Art Museum.
South Africa, Cape Town, University of Cape Town Michaelis Galleries, NOT MY WAR, June 29 – July 25. 

2011

USA, Baltimore, Goya Contemporary Gallery, TRANSITIONS MULTIPLES, September 8 – November 5.
South Africa, Johannesburg, 4th FNB Joburg Art Fair, TRANSITIONS MULTIPLES, September 23 – 25.
USA, Baltimore, Maryland Institute College of Art, TRANSITIONS, September 9 – October 2.
South Africa, Bloemfontein, University of the Free State, ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH masculinities conference, September 9 – 10.
Bulgaria, Balchik, 9th IN THE PALACE International Short Film Festival, June 18 – 25.
Germany, Sylt Island, Rantum, Kunst:raum Sylt Quelle Foundation, TRANSITIONS, February 18 – April 24.
USA, Chicago, University of Chicago, Smart Museum of Art, BLACK BOX, November 9, 2010 – January 2.

2010

France, Toulouse, 19th Sèquence Court-Mètrage International Film Festival, BEST OF AFRIQUE DU SUD, August 19 – November 28.
Italy, Forlì, 7th Sedicicorto International Film Festival, October 4 – 10.
Italy, Sardinia, Sassari, 5th Sardinia International Film Festival, June 22 – 26.
Sweden, Göteborg, 26th Göteborg Book Fair, September 22 – 26. 
Sweden, Gävleborg, Uppsala and Dalarna, 10th Videogud Video Konst Festival, May 27 – 28. 
USA, Washington DC, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, TRANSITIONS, May 12 – August 22.
United Kingdom, Glasgow, Centre for Contemporary Arts, AFRICAN SHORT FILMS, 13 March.
The Netherlands, Rotterdam, 39th International Film Festival Rotterdam, WHERE IS AFRICA? January 25 – February 5.
South Africa, Stellenbosch, Spier Gallery, TRANSITIONS, November 2009 – February 2010 & February 25 – March.

2009

United Kingdom, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Film Festival, AFRICA-IN-MOTION SHORT FILM COMPETITION, October 22 – November 1.
Canada, Victoria, Open Space Arts Centre, 12th Antimatter International Film Festival, October 9 – 17.
South Africa, Johannesburg, University of Johannesburg, ON MAKING: INTERGRATING APPROACHES IN PRACTICE LED RESEARCH, Colloquium, October 15.
South Africa, Grahamstown, National Arts Festival, Albany History Museum, TRANSITIONS, July 2 – 12.
South Africa, Durban, KZNSA Gallery, TRANSITIONS, June 2 – 21. 
South Africa, Kimberley, William Humphreys Art Gallery, TRANSITIONS, April 15 – May 15. 
South Africa, Bloemfontein, Oliewenhuis Art Museum, TRANSITIONS, February 5 – April 8. 
South Africa, Cape Town, Design Indaba Film Festival, February 27 – March 1. 

2008

Johannesburg, South Africa, Apartheid Museum, TRANSITIONS, September 27 – December 31.

CREDITS

An Art Source South Africa Project
A Format Production
A Paul Emmanuel Film


Concept, Executive Producer and Director Paul Emmanuel
Co-producer, Editor and Colourist Matthew Kramer
Original Soundtrack Wilbert Schubel
Final Mix Mantis Moon
Production Manager Natalie Stange
Project Manager Les Cohn
Telecine/Spirit Paul Hanrahan
Publicity and Media Management Taryn Cohn

Film processing The Film Lab

Telecine The Video Lab

Third South African Infantry Battalion, Kimberley, Free State
Director of Photography
 Ivan Leathers
Cameraman Richard Markham
Cameras Fordsburg Artists Studios and Magus Visual
Lighting Digital Film
Sound Equipment The Cameraman
Transport Tempest Car Hire and Imperial Truck Hire
Accommodation and Catering Bateleur Guest House


Gariep Dam, Free State, South Africa
Director of Photography
 Robert Wilson
Opticals and Equipment Camera Platform
Loader Ben Van Niekerk
Accommodation Avontura Resort and Edelweiss Guest House
Catering Ina Kotze

Sturrock Park, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Recruit
Paul Emmanuel
Barber Philip Legate
Director of Photography Eran Tahor
Loader / Focus Puller Houston Hadden
Best Boy / Grip Allen Markham
Spark Peter Modise
PA Vusi Gumede
Opticals Panacam
Additional Equipment MCC
Additional Props Wayne Sampson
Transport Imperial Car Rental and Earthworx
Catering Brett Rathbone

Topfontein Farm, Free State, South Africa
Director of Photography
Eran Tahor
Loader / Focus Puller Houston Hadden
Best Boy Grip Allen Markham
Spark Peter Modise
PA Vusi Gumede
Opticals Panacam
Additional Equipment MCC
Wind Machine Global Stunts and SFX
Wind Machine Operator G. Van der Heever
Accommodation Topfontein Farm
Transport Imperial Car Rental and Earthworx
Catering Brett Rathbone, Taryn Cohn and Les Cohn

‘The Lightweights’ art installation
Paul Emmanuel
Cotton t-shirts, clothes-pegs, steel
100 x 300 m
Free State, South Africa
22 - 24 June 2007


‘The Lightweights’ art installation production team
Paul Emmanuel
Earthworx
Richard Polack
Jorge Rodriguez
Wayne Sampson
Salome Kolobe
Kgotso Elias Masere
Mahlope Gladys Mohale
Masekao Simon Tlale
Malefetsane David Mohale
Moikamo Abram Phuroe
Mmalesedi Lisbeth Tlale
Libuseng Jeanette Mayizale
Mohapi Jacob Maqelepo
Tshadiso Moloi Martiens
Letebele David Tlale
Molefinyane David Senyane
Mohlouwa Piet Mokoteli
Molefinyane David Senyane
Mohlouwa Piet Mokoteli


SPECIAL THANKS

Richard E. Enthoven
Richard Polack
Jack Ginsberg
Matthew Kramer
Andrea Meneghelli
Chi Mun Woo
Anastasia Gekis
Wilbert Schubel
Tanya Konidaris
George Dimitris Christellis
Michael and Adrienne Feldner

Third South African Infantry Battalion (3SAI) Kimberley 
Colonel Louw
Colonel Grobler
Major Coetzee
Captain Pieterse
National Film, Video and Sound Archives
Trevor Moses
National Military Archives
Gerald Prinsloo
The University of the Witwatersrand Sturrock Park Management
Brian St. Clair Cooper
The Topfontein Farm Staff
Lisa Cohn
Jo Ractliffe
Aryan Kaganof
Coenraad Visser
Jeanetta Blignaut
David Koloane
Penny Siopis
William Kentridge
André Croucamp
Koulla Xinisteris
Fordsburg Artists Studios
Cati Weineck
Gerald Kraak
Nodi Murphy
Bob Nameng
Kim Berman
Donna Norgarb


The artist has made every reasonable effort to obtain all relevant permissions related to the making of this film.

A special limited edition of 10 Blu Ray High Definition Digital Video Discs was produced from the finished film. Each disc was signed and numbered by the artist 1/10 to 10/10.

© Paul Emmanuel 2008

 

ESSAYS
2015 Allara, P.
Mechanized Bodies: From the Armored Body to Technological Vision in Permanent War: The Age of Global Conflict, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA, January 

2013 Thorburn, D 
Borderline – Sweeping a Mind Field 
academic paper presented at Borders & Crossings IMPACT 8 International Printmaking Conference, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK, August

2012 Allara, P.
Diane Victor and Paul Emmanuel: Lost Men Lost Wor(l)ds in Gender and South African Art in African Arts, MIT Press Journals, Cambridge, MA, USA. Volume 45, No. 4, October. pp 34-45
(ISSN 0001-9933)

REVIEWS
2010 Weaver, A. M.
Paul Emmanuel, National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, in Art South Africa, Bell Roberts Publishing, Cape Town, South Africa, September

2010 Harvey, A.L.
Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in The Intowner, Intowner Publishing Corp., Washington DC, USA, June

2010 Cavenaugh, A.
Transitions in South Africa: Paul Emmanuel's 'Transitions' at Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Express Night Out, The Washington Post Company, Washington DC, USA, May

2010 O'Sullivan, M.
Smithsonian African Art Museum's 'Transitions' exhibit includes film on infantry (The story behind the work) in The Washington Post, The Washington Post Company, Washington DC, USA, May

2010 McKenna, A
Paul Emmanuel: Transitions. Identity Construction in South Africa in California Literary Review, California, USA, June 

2008 Kaganof, A.
Paul Emmanuel Apartheid Museum Johannesburg in Art South Africa, Bell Roberts Publishing, Cape Town, South Africa, December

2008 Dodd, A.
Art Pig in SA Art Times, Global Art Information, Cape Town, South Africa, November

2008 Corrigal, M.
Fine Artist Shows a Flare for Video in The Sunday Independent newspaper,
The Sunday Independent, Johannesburg, South Africa, September and in SA Art Times newspaper, Global Art Information, Cape Town, South Africa, October



SELECTED PRESS ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS
2011 Art Source South Africa

Another Accolade For Paul Emmanuel's Debut Artists Film, in South African Art Times, Global Art Information, Cape Town, South Africa, February

2009 Dodd, A.
Soundscapes Painstakingly Created: An interview with Wilbert Schubel
in Business Day Arts, Business Day, April

2008 Kaganof, A.
3SAI: A RITE OF PASSAGE: An interview with Paul Emmanuel on Kagablog, October

2008 van Schalkwyk, K.
Identity in Focus in ScreenAfrica, Sun Circle Publishers (Pty) Ltd, September