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Alternative Economies

Run Time

28 mins

Conversation and cooperative methods sit at the heart of artist and filmmaker Rehana Zaman’s practice. This latest work was commissioned for the Borås Art Biennial, which convened around the theme ‘deep listening’. The film feels like the clearest distillation of a long-term and ongoing interest: the ways socio-political concerns not only provide content, but actively structure the assembly of an artwork. In the film, disembodied voices speak about Bitcoin as a speculative alternative to existing banking systems. Later a crypto-economics researcher waxes lyrical about peer-peer connections. While one of the speakers describes it as a “pyramid scheme”, another responds, “if you want to learn about it, you’ve got to own it.”

These ideas of faux promises of collectivity and capitalist knowledge exchange meet with a sudden flash of green. Through a series of conversations with Zaman, all bathed in sage tones, Ahmad shares their knowledge of herbal medicine. This gestures to the ongoingness of “peer to peer” technologies of sharing. As the artist and the herbalist share time and strain herbs, they produce a tincture. Later, they distribute them for free. They do this via community-led spaces and grassroots actions in solidarity with asylum seekers at Napier Barracks.

In ayurvedic medicine, green is the colour to calm anxiety and stress. But, in the hyper-capitalist world of Scrooge McDuck’s ‘Tralla La’, it is the breakdown inducing the colour of money. The excerpts of the comic duck provide an absurdist visualisation of the possibility of utopian banking. But, they also provide an unarticulated personal connection. Tralla La was conceived by writer Carl Bank after he read an article on the Hunza River Valley in Pakistan, in the October 1953 issue of National Geographic. This site appears in Zaman’s recent work ‘Your Ecstatic Self’ which speaks to the possibilities of reading alternative epistemologies and kinship structures, against the grain.

More colours enter the frame, through a series of direct animations. These were produced through a correspondence between the artist and an old friend James Holcombe at ORWO film processing, connected through the legacies of LFMC, no-where film lab and not-nowhere artist workers cooperative. On top of these animations, the gentle dissent of a financial services regulator is offered via voice note. As these connections emerge, Alice Coltrane’s harp begins to play. Zaman’s hand painted film dances on the screen. Its forms merge and separate, unencumbered, free and constantly in relation. —Jemma Desai

Alternative Economies

Alternative Economies was made in conversation with herbalist Rasheeq Ahmad and financial services regulator Rachel Bardiger. The film discusses the imperialist exploits of the Disney character Scrooge McDuck, and the apparently radical yet deeply compromised promises of crypto­currency. Between these two strands, possibilities for an alternative network of exchange and subsistence are sought.






Dialogue Language


Primary Contact

Rehana Zaman


28 mins