online screening
The Crown Against Mafavuke
by Uriel Orlow

There has never been a more urgent time for art to be accessible, and La Loge believes that artists can help to make sense of this moment and keep us connected while at home. 

While La Loge is temporarily closed, we are happy to share with you a small selection of Uriel Orlow's work over the course of the two following weeks, of which one film, Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal), is included in the exhibition Learning from Artemisia.

Monday 13 to Sunday 19 April
The Crown Against Mafavuke, 2016

Monday 20 to Sunday 26 April
Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal), 2017


The Crown Against Mafavuke

South Africa, United Kingdom, 2016
18 minutes, 45 seconds, colour, ctereo, 16:9 original format: HD video

The Crown Against Mafavuke is based on a South African trial from 1940. Mafavuke Ngcobo was a traditional herbalist who was accused by the local white medical establishment of ‘untraditional behaviour’. The film explores the ideological and commercial confrontation between two different yet intertwining medicinal traditions and their uses of plants, with slippages across gender and race further questioning notions of purity and origination. The re-imagined court case is filmed at the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, where the Rivonia trial was held that sent Mandela and his fellow accused to Robben Island prison.

Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal) 

2017, 28 minutes, black and white / colour, 16:9, original format: HD video

Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal) is an experimental documentary set at the edge of a nature reserve in Johannesburg. A kind of Brechtian ‘Lehrstück’, the film shows the preparations for a people’s tribunal where traditional healers, activists and lawyers come together to discuss indigenous knowledge and bio-prospecting. The pharmaceutical industry has come to consider traditional medicine as a source for identification of new bioactive agents that can be used in the preparation of synthetic medicine. This raises new questions about intellectual copyright protection of indigenous knowledge. Imbizo Ka Mafavuke asks who benefits when plants become pharmaceuticals, given multiple claims to ownership, priority, locality and appropriation. The protagonists in the film slip into different roles and make use of real-world cases involving multinational pharmaceuticals scouting in indigenous communities for the next wonder drug. Ghosts of colonial explorers, botanists and judges observe the proceedings.