Konstfack, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design
Occidental Totems is a film which immerses the viewer in the life of a controversial artist: Jacob Epstein. Pioneer of modern sculpture and mentor to Henry Moore, Epstein carved on the façade of the South Rhodesian High commission in London (now known as the Embassy of Zimbabwe) a set of eighteen statues which were later mutilated by the representatives of the colonial power. In Sebastien Berthier's fifteen-minute video, Epstein is brought back to life to explain the dynamics of his work and how things run amok. By conflating parts of his own biography, news reports of demonstrations that occurred in front of the Embassy, and his own personal view upon the subject, Berthier creates a hybrid narrator who offers a new reading of colonialism and neo-colonial influence through the life of the sculptural work.