Allan deSouza, Ark of Martyrs (video still), 2014 (in process)
Ark of Martyrs presents the first five pages of deSouza’s rewriting of Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novel Heart of Darkness. Whereas Conrad’s original text is framed as the narration of Charles Marlow, a British sailor who transports ivory along the Congo River during the height of European imperialism, Ark of Martyrs is set at a contemporary wedding party. DeSouza’s rewriting mirrors Conrad’s syntax, and employs rhyme and alliteration: “The water shone pacifically” becomes “The daughter yawned terrifically.” The text making up Ark of Martyrs scrolls over the screen while a narrator (Stephen Wattrus) reads the corresponding passages from Heart of Darkness. According to deSouza, Conrad contrasts the present day “civility” of the River Thames, from where the story is told, with the timeless “savagery” of the Congo River, where Marlow’s story is set.