The Sec­re­tary of the Invisible

Super 16mm Colour and Sound

Secretary of the Invisible was shot on the river Niger close to the city of Niamey. It features Damoure Zika and Moussa Hamidou, who were respectively Jean Rouch’s principal actor and sound engineer. They are heading upstream on their pirogue to a village where an unofficial ‘Holley’ ceremony, an animist Songhay ritual, is due to take place. During the celebration the camera is bewitched and reveals the figure of a chameleon. The reptile’s change of colour, its ability to camouflage are placed in parallel with the ability of the camera to become the ‘invisible eye’ and to remain at the service of this condition. The title of this film is an expression used by the character Elisabeth Costello in J.M. Coetzee’s book ‘Elisabeth Costello’ which Coetzee borrowed from the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz.

Location: River Niger, Niger, May 2007
Camera: Aaton XTR +
Stock: 7218, 7274 Kodak
Lense: 12-120mm, 50mm lens Canon Zoom
Aspect ratio: 1:66
Dop: Jessica Servieres
Editor: Helle le Fevre
Sound: Matthias Fayos, Moussa Hamidou, Damien Perrollaz
Producers: Karen Katz, Lydia Martin, Corinne Castel
Process and grade: GTC, Joinville-Le-Pont
Produced by: Arts Council UK, Film London, Mamco Geneva, Switzerland, Max Wigram Gallery London, UK, Alan Djanogly