From Friday 30 October to Monday 21 December 2020 Spike Island is streaming Fi Dem III: Ancestral Interference, a newly commissioned video work by artist and dancer Zinzi Minott, produced and commissioned by Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, Spike Island, Bristol and Transmission, Glasgow.
Fi Dem is a durational moving image project and continued investigation into Blackness and Diaspora. On the anniversary of the Empire Windrush docking in the UK on 22nd June 1948, Minott returns to the work. Each iteration is a filmic manifestation of a year lived, a body moved and moving through a reflection on the legacies of The Windrush Generation.
Fi Dem III: Ancestral Interference, like preceding instalments of Minott’s project, invokes the HMT Empire Windrush’s mid-century voyage from Jamaica to London—except now we see it placed explicitly alongside emblems of the transatlantic slave trade. Minott is aware of the slave ship’s hold, stretching across centuries of Black Caribbean history into the present; an image of Covid-19 statistics overlaid atop a slave ship diagram tells us as much. But the artist also turns our attention to the legacies of Black Caribbean life, sound, resistance and communion within its diaspora. Fi Dem III: Ancestral Interference draws from personal and familial archives to chart several Black Caribbean journeys and narratives, some of which have been imaged and returned to throughout the series. For Minott, a trained dancer who was raised within sound system culture, Fi Dem’s clashing images and sounds are a way of ‘editing with the body’ to create the feeling of movement central to her training and to the migratory lives of Black Caribbeans.
Ancestral interference is the feeling of rage or anger bigger than your own rage, pain bigger than your own pain, it is the feeling of being tired of a fight you have only just begun. It is the feeling of being on the march forever, of screaming from a place deep inside that does not belong to you. It is the feeling of being frightened for your life, fighting for your life. It is standing on the edge of the sea and hearing screams, it is being begged by them not to give up. It is being on your portion of a walk that has been ablaze for centuries, and feeling the weight of every foot that has walked. It is being strengthened by the ability for your ancestors to lose everything, and build something, again, and again and again.
My ancestors meddle, they interfere, they see cracks and break through and they scream with us, they rage with us, they remind us.
It is conjuring the strength of those who fought for their lives.
There will be Ancestral interference.
We have been fighting for time. We are not propelled into this fight just on our legs, but the legs of those that have walked, pounded the pavement, they have run, in between the blades of cane and the balls of cotton to freedom. For those of us who don’t only imagine the horrors of slavery but carry it in our blood, life expectancy still cut short by the consequences of horror, there will be ancestral interference.
For the rumble that we all feel, the feeling of impending eruption, for the rage that bubbles within us, that rage is not ours alone. There will be ancestral interference.
For those of them that came to rebuild a mother country that only ever loathed them, there will be ancestral interference.
There are people fighting for and with us on many planes—Ancestral interference.
Read between the glitch. Ancestral interference.
In this moment where the vice seems to squeeze ever tighter around our Black lives, I need you to remember that there will be Ancestral Interference.
There will be Ancestral interference.
Pour out and walk. Some times yuh haffi stan crooked an cut straight. Ah so we dweet. Call them. Ancestral Interference.
That scream stuck deep down in your throat is not yours alone. Call them. Ancestral interference.
Everyday I get closer to becoming an ancestor. I will interfere. There will be meddling, there will be interference. I will interfere.
Zinzi Minott’s work focuses on the relationship between dance, bodies and politics. She explores how dance is perceived through the prisms of race, queer culture, gender, and class and is specifically interested in the place of Black women’s bodies within the form. As a dancer and filmmaker, she seeks to complicate the boundaries of dance, seeing her live performances, filmic explorations and objects as different but connected manifestations of dance and body-based outcomes and enquiry. Broken narratives, disturbed lineages and glitches are used by Minott to explore notions of racism one experiences through the span of a Black life. Sharing Caribbean stories in her work, she highlights the histories of those enslaved and the resulting migration of the Windrush Generation. Current commissions and residences are with Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, Spike Island, Transmission, 198 Gallery and Cubitt Gallery
Zinzi Minott discussed her recent online commission Fi Dem III: Ancestral Interference, and her wider practice, with writers and scholars Denise Ferreira da Silva and Joan Anim-Addo. The conversation was chaired by Tendai Mutambu, Assistant Curator: Commissions and Public Programmes at Spike Island.Watch this event
Zinzi Minott invited academic, activist and psychotherapist Gail Lewis to have a conversation about some of the ideas in her filmmaking and performance work. Conducted via WhatsApp (voice and text messages, still and moving images) the conversation includes excerpts from poetry, music, and dance of the African-Caribbean diaspora.Access the conversation
Fi Dem III is produced and commissioned by Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, Spike Island, Bristol and Transmission, Glasgow. Fi Dem III premieres at Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival in September 2020 followed by screenings with Spike Island and Transmission from Friday 30 October to Thursday 26 November 2020.