Lauren Mitchell from Design Indaba interviews Nelly Ben Hayoun on her new documentary, informed by the philosophy of Hannah Arendt, explores what are the origins of knowledge.

You can read the article online here.  

The film is inspired and motivated by the works and philosophy of political theorist Hannah Arendt,  (who died in 1975). She coined the concept of the ‘banality of evil’.

Her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), and essays such as, Truth and Politics (1967), are introduced as ‘urgently’ relevant to our times – with a recent spike of interest in her work, now translated into dozens of languages.

For Hannah Arendt, activism has to be understood from the perspective of ‘creating something new in the world’. So, Ben Hayoun is hoping that the film will encourage the viewers to take action, build organised communities and platform to support plurality of thinking and fight censorship in a context where temptations for authoritarian regimes are making a revival with the election of Trump and Bolsonaro in Brazil to cite a few.

Dressed as Hannah Arendt and accompanied with Japanese Bunraku puppets, she takes the audience on a cross-continental journey, picking the brains of philosophers, artists and activists, including Noam Chomsky, Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid, Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, students of Hannah Arendt, and cyborg artist Neil Harbisson. Harbisson was a speaker at this year’s Design Indaba.

As a designer of experiences, Hayoun will distribute the film on a vinyl record which will mark the start of a creative collaboration with the world’s foremost vinyl enterprise known as The Vinyl Factory. Known for disrupting systems, the French designer is now challenging the film and music industries into the creation of new distribution models.

“For me, the success of my experiences but also films come from how many people from various walks of life I can bring into a single place, the gallery, the cinema, the nightclub or other, to discuss urgent topics together. But for film and design distributors it is another story, it is about identifying one type of audience and focusing on attracting that specific audience into a single place,” says Hayoun. 

Read the full article online here.  

Design Indaba is a trademark and brand founded and run by Interactive Africa in 1995 with a focus on design and under the slogan “A better world through creativity”. Consisting of an online publication and a series of events and creative projects, it is most widely known for its annual festival held in South Africa, in particular the flagship three-day conference hosted in Cape Town. The Design Indaba Conference is also broadcast live to various cities, most recently including Johannesburg, Durban, Nairobi, Windhoek, Kampala and Lausanne. It has also been referred to as the “Conference on Creativity”.