The Work We Share w/ Cinenova
An exchange between artists from different generations embarking on parallel journeys that question blackness, its voices and rhythms.
Two works from 'The Work We Share', a public programme of newly digitised films from the Cinenova collection addressing representations of gender, race, sexuality, health and community. The films are captioned by Collective Text, and supported by response commissions from contemporary artists and writers. This programme intends to acknowledge the interdependency from organisation, to filmmakers, cultural workers, communities, and individuals.
In their own cinematic and sonic languages, Onyeka Igwe, L. Franklin Gilliam and S. Pearl Sharp embark on parallel journeys toward the self. A substance grounded in multitude, transient yet very much present in its blackness, its voiceness, its persistent movement and rhythms.
In the cinema these works are shown on loop:
Portrait of self presences, Onyeka Igwe (UK, 2022, 5 min)
A quadraphonic sound work evoking the text 'A Many Selved Portrait', written in response to L.Franklin Gilliam's film 'Now Pretend' and after conversation with the filmmaker.
Now Pretend, L.Franklin Gilliam (USA, 1991, 10 min)
'Now Pretend' is an experimental investigation into the use of race as an arbitrary signifier. Drawing upon language, personal memories, and the 1959 text, Black Like Me, it deals with Lacan’s 'mirror stage' theory of self-perception and the movement from object to subject.
Back Inside Herself, S. Pearl Sharp (USA, 1984, 4 min)
Described by S. Pearl Sharp as 'a visual poem on identity', 'Back Inside Herself' shows a Black woman finding her own sense of self and rejecting hegemonic societal expectations of who she should be and how she should behave. Featuring Barbara-O Jones (Daughters of the Dust).
These accompanying texts can be found outside the cinema:
A Many Selfed Portrait, Onyeka Igwe: An experimental text responding to the film Now Pretend, and resulting from a conversation Onyeka had with L.Franklin.
On the Inside, Sarah Lasoye: accompanying the film Back Inside Herself.
Onyeka Igwe is a London born & based moving image artist and researcher. Her work is aimed at the question: how do we live together? Not to provide a rigid answer as such, but to pull apart the nuances of mutuality and co-existence in our deeply individualized world. Onyeka’s practice figures sensorial, spatial and counter-hegemonic ways of knowing as central to that task. She is interested in the prosaic and everyday aspects of black livingness. For her, the body, archives and narratives both oral and textual act as a mode of enquiry that makes possible the exposition of overlooked histories . The work comprises untying strands and threads, anchored by a rhythmic editing style, as well as close attention to the dissonance, reflection and amplification that occurs between image and sound.
S. Pearl Sharp’s work focuses on cultural arts, health and Black Diaspora history including the poetry short 'Back Inside Herself' (1984 and 2009 Re-mix), the semi-animated 'Picking Tribes' (1988), the celebrated 'The Healing Passage/Voices From The Water' (2004) and directing numerous documentaries for the City of Los Angeles’ CH 35. Her films have screened in Norway, China, Britain, the Caribbean and at FESPACO. Instigating through art and activism she authored the non-fiction books 'Black Women For Beginners' and 'The Evening News', four volumes of poetry, and in 2021 she released the short poetry video 'Blood Bank'.
L.Franklin Gilliam believes that, in a broken world, the vision and creativity of artists are critical to transformative systems change. Gilliam’s creative practice is research-based and multidisciplinary. It has taken the form of film/video art, installation, games, and illustrated lectures. Gilliam’s projects explore the interplay between obsolete technology formats and the faulty transmission of historical knowledge and difference. Their projects have been screened and presented at the 1997 Whitney Biennial, the New Museum, Oberhausen Short Film Festival, and featured in Anäis Duplan’s BLACKSPACE: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture (2020). Gilliam’s role-playing game, 'Lesberation', premiered at New York University Game Center’s No Quarter exhibition in 2015.Sarah Lasoye is a poet and writer from London. She is an alumna of the Barbican Young Poets and a current member of Octavia – Poetry Collective for Women of Colour. Her debut chapbook, 'Fovea / Ages Ago', was published by Hajar Press in April 2021.
Cinenova is a volunteer-run organisation preserving and distributing the work of feminist film and video makers. Cinenova was founded in 1991 following the merger of two feminist film and video distributors, Circles and Cinema of Women, each formed in 1979. Cinenova currently distributes over 300 titles that include artists’ moving image, experimental film, narrative feature films, documentary and educational videos made from the 1910’s to the early 2000’s. The thematics in these titles include oppositional histories, post and de-colonial struggles, representation of gender, race, sexuality, and other questions of difference and importantly the relations and alliances between these different struggles. Since 2001, Cinenova has been organised by a group of volunteers who oversee the ongoing preservation and distribution of the collection, as well as special projects that seek to question the conditions of the organisation.
image 1 | courtesy of L.Franklin Gilliam and Cinenova Distribution
image 2 | courtesy of S. Pearl Sharp and Cinenova Distribution