Francois Knoetze’s The Great Circle (2016) is a series incorporating sculptural costumes, photos, interviews, found footage and performances developed during his two month-long Artist Residency at Nafasi Artspace in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The title refers to the practice of navigating a vessel along the shortest distance between two points on a sphere. The series features the character of a grounded drone which has deviated from its function, navigating ways of seeing and representing through participatory storytelling, rather than remote surveillance. Narrative and choreographic material for The Great Circle was devised in collaboration with the Muda Africa dance troupe and local artists, writers, tour guides and drone enthusiasts. It plunges into drone culture in Dar es Salaam, drawing links between colonial surveillance projects and contemporary grassroots drone mapping.
Through improvisational performance, public encounters, interviews and found footage montage, the series provides a playful counterpoint to harmful stereotypes of the continent. It attempts reflexively to critique the artist’s own positionality and lens, while foregrounding the personal narratives, lived experiences and subjectivities of the performers. The Great Circle is a psychogeographic sketch of Dar es Salaam which winds its tangled, twisting route through reveries and evocations, deliberately straying from the direct linear course of the great circle track.