M.Bassy Dialogues #8
with Témé and Michiel

Témé and Michiel
Michiel and Témé

In SERIES #6 we are happy to provide an online interview with the artists Témé and Michiel

How does your current artistic practice look like?

Témé : Right now I have time to read a lot and focus more on writing my 2nd album. My tour ended last July in Canada. I had been on the road for approximately 4 years so it’s nice to be able to take a step back.

Michiel: I’m currently finishing the script of the feature film I’m making in Eritrea and this summer I’ll concentrate on editing the documentary about the Congolese main actor of my first short film, so I’ll be back to memory lane once diving into these images again. And if corona allows it, I'll shoot a new short film this fall in France.

For which three things are you very thankful at the moment?

Témé: The roof over my head, my health and the health of those I love 

Michiel: Nature, loved ones, and all books, films and music that accompany me these days.

How do you deal with the uncertainty of the future?

Témé & Michiel: Living in the moment and letting go as much as possible on the things you cannot control.

At which place would you choose to be at the moment?

Témé: A place with access to the water would be nice. 

Michiel: In Addis sheltering from the rain in one of the many coffee stalls at the side of the streets, drinking a strong buna (coffee) and seeing how the rain comes to an end while the sun is breaking through. 

Which connection do you have to nature currently?

Michiel: The past years I travelled a lot for my films, and during these corona times I had a chance to reconnect with the place where I grew up. A rural town in Belgium. I never had much affection for that specific town, but now I discovered how I was connected with the fields and trees surrounding me since my childhood. I felt as if I was one of them, rooted in the same moist soil.

: Since the beginning of the lockdown, I have had the privilege to do my morning meditation and exercises in the grass of a small city garden. I feel very grateful for it and do not take it for granted.

What have you learned during this time: What can you do without, that you usually stick to?

Témé: When I’m not on tour, I already tend to live like an hermit. The epidemic has brought this side of my personality to a whole new level.

Michiel: Bars with too loud people and music, someone shouting at me, me nodding yes while I did not understand his question, something about neo-capitalism I think, awkward silence, shouting again.

In how far the Corona pandemic is an allegory of global western capitalism?

Michiel: The privileged citizens of this planet, them/us who can travel all over the world, have spread this disease. A disease that touches everybody. Now borders are closed. Tomorrow we ‘open’ them again, for them who have the privilege to travel. And we will still keep preaching about equality…

Témé: Always more, always further, always faster until it eventually breaks… We ask too much of nature and it hits us back.

African intellectuals as Felwine Sarr, Achille Mbembe and Wole Soyinka  consider the Covid-19 crises a chance for Africa. What do you think about that?

Michiel: Breaking the pattern that African countries are the one needing help from others. I see how many African countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Angola are dealing with the pandemic in a better way as Europe does. The WHO organisation is led by the Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom. The West should finally stop thinking they hold the absolute truth.

Témé: Mauritius Island is also the land with most culture of Artemisia.  You can read about this very powerful plant and how it could have helped a lot of people in Western countries. Our dirigeants seem too proud and tied to pharmaceutical industries to consider that natural option made in Africa. 

Which topics are drowned out by Corona at the moment?

Michiel: Even when there is no sport, the news is talking about the fact that there is no sport, past months people have been flooded by beautiful music, works of art, films… the abundance of art people hold on during these times may be highlighted once more.

Témé: The media also don’t talk enough about how the crisis is causing even more harm to already disadvantaged communities. It should stress the fact that extraordinary measures should be taken to help.

Who should view your art right now?

Témé & Michiel: People who want to travel, dream through music & film. 

Témé Tan:

"Belgian with a Congolese heritage Tanguy Haesevoets alias Témé Tan is a polyglot multi-instrumentalist who draws on eclectic sources of inspiration. It was in Japan that Tanguy signalled the start of his solo career with the release of his eponymous album. A new adventure marked by the Japanese influence on his stage name: Té for hand, Mé for eyes (and Tan for Tanguy). “Témé Tan” – a name signifying an open mind without limits for this rolling stone who draws as much on encounters as he does on new landscapes. Now based in Brussels, this musician born in Kinshasa has also cultivated a taste for adventure in his travels to Brazil, Canada, Mali, China and Guinea, among other countries. Although his first album, “Témé Tan” (PIAS, 2017), is an infectious source of joy, it nonetheless tells a contemporary story that’s far from unequivocal.

Michiel Robberecht:

Belgian film director and photographer Michiel Robberecht spent the last years working and living between Brussels, Kinshasa and Addis Ababa. Michiel got his Master degree in Arts & Literature at the University of Antwerp and during this studies fell in love with cinema. After university he didn’t attend filmschool but chose to learn making films by self-discovery. He set off to Congo where he lived for half a year in a small village in the Congolese rainforest to make his first independent movie Peer Gynt. Michiel’s films and photography are characterised by a magical universe wherein time, people and the places he gets to know along the way turn into fictional entities. At the moment he’s working on a new documentary in Congo, a new short with blind actors set on an island in France and his first feature film set in Eritrea.