Abdo Rinbo (Je est un autre)

HD Video / Stereo
Duration: 01:25:00

On 10 June 1876, the French poet Arthur Rimbaud left the Dutch port of Den Helder on a three-masted steamship, the Prins van Oranje, his eventual destination Batavia, or as it is now known, Jakarta. He travelled as a recent conscript of the Dutch Colonial Army, a brutally-efficient mercenary force which had been crushing small revolts that had threatened to disrupt the flow of produce from the Dutch East Indies. Upon arrival in Batavia 10 days later, Rimbaud and the other recruits remained in local barracks for a further 10 days before boarding a steamer to Semarang; there followed a train to Tungtang before a march to Salatiga where his battalion was garrisoned. On the morning of 15 August, nearly two weeks after his arrival, Private Rimbaud failed to attend chapel; that evening he was absent from roll-call, also. Rimbaud had deserted. Disappeared.

Abdo Rinbo (Je est un autre) is not so much about the fact of Rimbaud’s disappearance — especially as so little is known of it — as it is a reflection upon what it is to disappear. Indeed, who had disappeared? For whom was the Dutch Colonial Army searching? Who was Rimbaud during this period? The former Communard was now a mercenary soldier in a brutal imperialist force. Can we even describe him as a poet, as he had already written what was to be his last work (and maybe he knew this already)? As he had written in a letter some five years previously, ‘Je est un autre’, I is an other, and we are all of us something other than ourselves. Through a series of personal reflections, and material gathered throughout Java, this film considers who this other might be.

Supported by Arts Council England / British Council, through the Artists' International Development Fund