The Battles
Film installation
HD Video
121 minutes
Colour, stereo, 24 fps, PAL
Edition 5 +2 AP

The feature-length film installation titled - The Battles (2016) - is focused on an existing filmic text The Battle of Algiers (1966), a war film directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, based on occurrences during the Algerian War (1954–62) against the French Government in North Africa. Pontecorvo’s film focuses on the years between 1954 and 1957 in the Casbah when guerrilla fighters regrouped and expanded, only to face a systematic attempt by French paratroopers to wipe them out. The film was banned for five years in France, where it was released as a cut version only in 1974.

More recently the Pentagon has used the film as a key text in the analysis of asymmetric urban conflict within the context of the 2nd Iraqi War (2003-2011).

The Battles (2016) employs the formal device of simultaneously overlaying two video channels of Pontecorvo’s film over one another. The original black and white film has been digitally coloured green and red for each channel. The green channel plays forwards as originally made, whilst the red channel is the film played in reverse - each version overlaid on one another with a duration of exactly 121 minutes as per the original film. Both audio channels are also left intact and play over one another, one plays forwards and the other in reverse. For exhibition the film is continuously looped as a large-scale projection.


Michael MacGarry, contemporary African art, African art, contemporary art, Africa, sculpture