It is that of a comfortable lounge. There’s nothing particularly surprising in this, and yet the Nollywood fragments that compose this mash up fascinate because of their tendency to reiterate images of comfort which are completely alien to the lifestyle of most of the audience for whom these films were produced. The films produced in Nollywood, namely in Lagos by the Nigerian film industry, essentially show two opposite ways of life: life in the city and life in the village. The first highlight symbols of economic well-being: powerful cars, nice houses, beautiful clothes. Interestingly, these signs of economic power are often presented as if they were goals of a lifestyle of violence and abuse, the effect of corruption, or the result of evil pacts with invisible powers. In the Nigerian films wealth, if not explicitly associated with evil, is definitely so with the elitist indifference to the sufferings of the people; yet it exerts a powerful and invincible charm on the audience, which is not elitist but popular. And is it not like this everywhere? Perhaps Nigerian filmmakers have fewer qualms about making this psychological dimension evident.
Cristiano Berti and Can Sungu combine a long sequence of cuts taken from various Nollywood movies with an original music score commissioned in Lagos. Alongside this video, Berti and Sungu show a video footage of a private nature, accidentally found in Turin, in a box with other videos abandoned in a former Nigerian video shop. This amateur video, taken between 2004 and 2007, shows the construction process of a large villa somewhere in Nigeria – supposedly commissioned by a Nigerian immigrant living in Italy. With Highlife, the artists invite the viewer to switch back and forth between the documented and the cinematographically-staged reality - a game that is well known to us today in Africa, Germany and elsewhere.