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STILL HERE Stories of migration, displacement, and survival. Films by eight artists that represent a spectrum of the African Diaspora.

Cinthia Marcelle | Video Still | Cruzada, 2010

“In Cinthia Marcelle’s video work Cruzada (Cruzada, 2010), 16 musicians meet at the center of a crossroads. They arrive in separated groups of four, each group approaching from a different pole and sporting colour-matched shirts and matching instruments (the ‘yellow’ group, for example, carries cymbals, the ‘red’ drums and so on). As the group arrive, one at a time, their playing is little more than chaotic noise. When they all meet, face-to-face, at the center of the crossroads, they begin a choreographed ‘battle’ in which musicians exchange places to create four bands of mixed colours and mixed instruments. Now playing in harmony, the musicians leave the scene.” – Art Review

Carlos Javier Ortiz | Video Still | A Thousand Midnights, 2015

For African-Americans fleeing the south during the Great Migration, economic and racial exploitation were inextricably linked. African-Americans in search of some semblance of freedom from racial terror also longed for the opportunity to provide for their families outside the racial plunder of the Southern plantation system. In this manner, the purported racial openness of the north was believed to translate into more economic opportunity for African-American migrants, their families, and future generations. However, as is the case with much of the American story, this dream remains just out of reach for many. This experimental documentary chronicles the contemporary manifestation of the economic and social histories of African-Americans who came to the north during the Great Migration in search of economic opportunities. The implications of their migration, and the lack of economic opportunity they encountered, has far reaching consequences for African-America today.

Helina Metaferia | Video Still | The Call, 2019

The Call is a video performance project that places female descendants of Black civil rights activists in conversation with one another, and at sites of historic trauma, in order to visually interrogate the role of inherited social movement histories on the Black body. Through durational performances with bodies that conjure powerful bloodlines, at sites that conjure blood spill, Metaferia visually articulates the quest for human liberation as an act of endurance. The Call features the gathering of Melani Douglass and her daughter Asherah Douglass (abolitionist Frederick Douglass's descendants); Ayanna Gregory (comedian and activist Dick Gregory's daughter); and Paula Whaley (author James Baldwin's sister), in Baltimore, MD at Paula Whaley's home and at Fells Point, one of the oldest slave ports in the country.

MELO-X | Video Still | Juvé Nite, 2018

In 2016, MELO-X took a camera crew along the Jouvert path in Brooklyn, NYC, a journey from Church and Nostrand Avenue to Utica Avenue, all the way to Eastern Parkway, then to Empire Boulevard and back. This journey is reminiscent of the path he took each year as a kid. He wanted to capture the natural elements. There were no interviews, highlights, or questions unlike many media outlets who have done so in the past few years. He wanted to become the spirit that moves through the people, the spirit that was there from the beginning capturing all the festivities and all of the numerous ways in which, whether we knew it or not, were carrying on a tradition and paying homage to those who sacrificed their freedom and also had their traditions stolen or suppressed.

Joiri Minaya | Video Still | Siboney, 2014

Siboney is a performance in two parts and a mural painting. The first part of Siboney is compiled in a video that documents the process of copying the tropical pattern of a found piece of fabric on a wall, juxtaposed with subtitles that gather ideas around the piece. In the process, the collection of the museum (Leon Center in Santiago, DR) was a study of Siboney and a painting by Vela Zanetti of a dancing mulatta, which appears in the video.

Once the mural was finished after around a month of work, Minaya wet her body and rubbed herself against the wall, transforming the mural, while an adaption of the song Siboney by Connie Francis is playing.

Courtesy of the Eduardo León Jiménes Collection (Santiago, Dominican Republic).

Adama Delphine Fawundu | Video Still | The Cleanse, 2017

For the Mende, beautiful hair is called kpotongo, which literally means ‘it is much, abundant, plentiful' (Gordon Innes). The root, kpoto, is used to describe things in nature that can be pulled together such as fruits on a tree and rice. The most significant thing about hair in Mende culture is that it grows, this symbolizes essence of life. It is important to wash it regularly and nurture it with herbs and natural oils. The maintenance of growth is essential.

Third Horizon | Video Still | Papa Machete, 2017

Papa Machete introduces viewers to the esoteric martial art of machete fencing that evolved from the Haitian Revolution through the practice and life of “Professor” Alfred Avril -- a poor, aging farmer who is one of the art’s few remaining masters. Teaching about the practical and spiritual value of the machete as both a weapon and a farmer’s key to survival – Avril provides a bridge between his country’s traditional past and its troubled present. The film documents his proud devotion to his heritage and his struggle to keep it alive in the face of bitter poverty.

Larry Achiampong | Video Still | Sunday’s Best, 2016

Sunday’s Best considers how belief systems within the diaspora are inflected by these colonial histories in the present day. The work is a confluence of the vivid sounds and images of praise and worship sessions in a Ghanaian community church and the stark interiors of a Roman Catholic Church. Documented across a number of sites in London, Sunday’s Best maps out a narrative of coming to terms with the incongruence of faith practices that straddle western and non-western influences.

Larry Ossei-Mensah | is a Ghanaian-American independent curator and cultural critic who uses contemporary art and culture as a vehicle to redefine how we see ourselves and the world around us. He has organized exhibitions and programs at commercial and nonprofit spaces around the globe and has documented contemporary art happenings for various publications. His writings have profiled some of the most dynamic visual artists working today—Derrick Adams, Mickalene Thomas, and Kehinde Wiley.

Kiara Cristina Ventura | Dominican-American journalist and curator from the Bronx who aims to be a support for emerging artists especially those from underrepresented communities in the art world. Ventura graduated with a B.A. in Art History and Journalism at NYU in May 2018. In the past, she has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cosmopolitan Magazine for Latinas, Art Forum, Grey Art Gallery, and the Brooklyn Museum. She is an art critic for Art Forum and Performa Magazine. As part of her practice, she covers stories about creatives through news pieces, video, and short docs.

Dexter Wimberly | Independent curator and entrepreneur who has organized exhibitions and developed programs with galleries and institutions throughout the world including The Third Line in Dubai; Contemporary Art Museum CAM Raleigh in North Carolina; The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco; Koki Arts in Tokyo; and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. His exhibitions have been reviewed and featured in publications including The New York Times, Artforum, and Hyperallergic; and have received support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Wimberly has also served as Director of Strategic Planning at Independent Curators International in New York City.

Videos by

Cinthia Marcelle | is known for using video and photography to document her interventions with ordinary day-to-day activities. She often uses film to explore how experiences in public spaces – a traffic light, an isolated dirt road, a construction site – can turn from everyday occurrences into joyful and poetic events. Marcelle presents a selection of videos that challenge our notions of conventional behavior by introducing humorous coincidences and connections.

Carlos Javier | Born in Puerto Rico, Carlos Javier is a director, cinematographer and documentary photographer who focuses on urban life, gun violence, racism, poverty and marginalized communities. In 2016, Carlos received a Guggenheim Fellowship for film/video. 2015 marked the centennial of the beginning of the Great Migration in which six million African Americans relocated from the rural South to the cities of the North, Midwest, and West from 1915 to 1970. In many ways, the epic internal migration created what we now consider the modern American city, particularly Chicago.

Helina Metaferia | The Call is a video performance project that places female descendants of Black civil rights activists in conversation with one another, and at sites of historic trauma, in order to visually interrogate the role of inherited social movement histories on the Black body. Through durational performances with bodies that conjure powerful bloodlines, at sites that conjure blood spill, Metaferia visually articulate the quest for human liberation as an act of endurance. The Call features the gathering of Melani Douglass and her daughter Asherah Douglass (abolitionist Frederick Douglass's descendants); Ayanna Gregory (comedian and activist Dick Gregory's daughter); and Paula Whaley (author James Baldwin's sister), in Baltimore, MD at Paula Whaley's home and at Fells Point, one of the oldest slave ports in the country.

MELO-X | is a multi-media artist and multi platinum music producer based between New York City and Los Angeles whose career spans over a 10-year period. His work includes projects that range from album collaborations, music remixes, stage design, creative direction and film scores. In 2015, together with Claude “Visionary” Dary, he founded XTRA CREATIVE HOUSE-which serves as a branding, tech, culture, film & design brain trust. He has a Peabody award for composing the score for Beyoncé’s “LEMONADE” film.

Joiri Minaya | is a Dominican-United Statian multi-disciplinary visual artist whose work navigates binaries in search of in-betweenness, investigating the female body within constructions of identity, multicultural social spaces and hierarchies. Recent works focus on questioning historic and contemporary representations of black and brown womanhood in relation to an imagined tropical identity from a decolonial stance.

Adama Delphine Fawundu | “I am a first generation American with parents from Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea, West Africa. With my recent works, I’ve been using my Mende heritage through my paternal grandmother’s lineage as a source of inspiration. The Mende people are an ethnic group hailing from various parts of West Africa. A vast amount of people of African descent can trace the Mende ethnicity in their DNA. I am interested in how the Mende culture has shape shifted, transformed and evolved within the African Diaspora despite horrific societal disruptions such as colonialism and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. With “The Cleanse”, I thought about the cyclical idea of ritual as it mirrors the cycle of life.

Third Horizon | is an award-winning creative collective dedicated to developing, producing, exhibiting and distributing film and other art forms that give voice to stories of the Caribbean, its diaspora and other marginalized and underrepresented spaces in the Global South. Our flagship initiative is the Third Horizon Film Festival, which takes place every year in Miami and celebrates the exciting new wave of cinema and creativity emerging from the Caribbean and its diaspora. It was recently named “one of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by Movie Maker Magazine.

Larry Achiampong | As part of his current research, Larry Achiampong is interested in the mutations of traditions and language that are birthed as a result of colonization, and how they affect people today. In particular, the relationship with Christian imperialism and its impact on his tribe – The Ashanti.

Credits:

Rachel Suga, Kat Laverenz, & Dani Spewak