On the occasion of Zinzi Minott’s new film commission Fi Dem III: Ancestral Interference – currently screening on Spike Island’s website – Minott invited academic, activist and psychotherapist Gail Lewis to have a conversation about some of the ideas in her filmmaking and performance work, along with the knowledge and practices, aesthetic and otherwise, that inform both their lives. This conversation, conducted via WhatsApp between Monday 2 and Sunday 8 November 2020, includes voice messages, text messages, still and moving images – among them excerpts from poetry, music, and dance of the African-Caribbean diaspora. The conversation begins with a question from Tendai Mutambu, Assistant Curator: Commissions and Public Programmes at Spike Island.
Gail Lewis is Reader Emeritus in the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck College and Honorary Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Gender Studies, LSE. She will be Visiting Professor at Yale University in the academic year 2021–22. She trained as a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist and a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic. Her political subjectivity was formed in the intensities of black feminist and anti-racist struggle and through a socialist, anti-imperialist lens. She was a member of the Brixton Black Women’s Group and one of the founder members of the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent, Britain’s first national organisation for black and other women of colour. She is currently writing a book on black feminism in Britain and has written on feminism, intersectionality, the welfare state, and racialised-gendered experience.
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.
Fi Dem III: Ancestral Interference is produced and commissioned by Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, Spike Island, Bristol and Transmission, Glasgow. The film premiered at Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2020 followed by screenings at Spike Island and Transmission.
Q (for Zinzi): I’m curious to hear about the significance of the title ‘Fi Dem’ and for whom this work is made. In what ways are those two things connected, if at all?
Zinzi, Tendai, hope it ok how I’m responding to you!! G
Half leaf propagation
Take a look at this video on YouTube:
Hey Zinzi. I’m going to be late today. Got caught up with some unexpected stuff. Hope you good. G
No worries, I’m caught up too. N tryna find space to respond. 🖤
But you know in any conversation there are pauses – like the pauses/silences between musical notes!!
First of two links to NourbeSe Philip. This one is from couple of years ago where she read from Zong! In an event at the Black Outdoors seminars at Duke University. Stay with it and watch her ‘read’ from Zong!
This second one is from a talk she gave couple of weeks ago at Toronto University. Stay with it too and see her ‘read’ again from Zong! … It’s late on I think (?)
I thought I’d send you image of two pages from Zong! So you can get a sense of how she delivered the writing. Telling a story that can’t be told, that must be told.