Green Pastures, Still Waters, and Black Rhythms: Rituals as Rest and Resistance

June 21 ,  11:00 am

 —  11:00 pm

All times are listed in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

Roya DelSol, Kourtney Jackson, Kaya Joan, Ayo Tsalithaba, Elisha Smith-Leverock, Evan Ifekoya, Grace Channer, Tanika I. Williams

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Caption

 

Curated by Kerry-Ann James

 

I’m exhausted. Completely burnt out. With my soul starved and my body wilted, I smile. Everyone applauds as I spread myself thin. But a single caring and worried voice utters, “...be sure to take some rest.” My mind replies, “I don’t know how to do that.” My body cries, “If we sit still, I’ll remember for you.”

 

“Green Pastures, Still Waters, and Black Rhythms” explores the tender knowledge of nature, spirit, and the Black body, despite neo-liberalism’s demands to exploit it. This is a journey of discovering the resistance in rest, the healing in realignment, and the care in communion through honouring ancestral memories, frolicking in fields, dreaming, floating in bodies of water, and writing love letters to past, present, and future selves. Bringing together Black/indigenous filmmakers and performers, this program depicts a dimension in which the systems forcing our entire species into extreme exhaustion and detachment from our bodies and minds are disrupted. Tricia Hersey, an American poet, performance artist, activist, and founder of the Nap Ministry—an organization that advocates for rest as a form of resistance—inspires this meditation on Black rest. Hersey often repeats that we are not machines; we are divine human beings with a right to rest.

 

The history of Black liberation tells us that the dispossession of land, attacks on spirit, and the exploitation of bodies are fundamental to the speed and efficacy of capitalism and neoliberalism. Our ancestors were denied stillness. So, we must resist, slow down, and return to the Black rhythms of dance, compassionate relationships with the land, and tending to our minds, bodies, and spirits.

 

The artists featured in “Green Pastures, Still Waters, and Black Rhythms” share an interest in landscape, spirituality, and multidimensional temporalities. Emerging from the works is a peculiar form of resistance, connection, and joy. This selection is an affirmation, a passageway, and a prayer to reconnect with slowness. This intentional rest is not a means to re-emerge into a cycle of productivity and exhaustion but an enactment of political warfare and collective healing.

 

Be still, and remember: you are free to rest.

 

— Kerry-Ann James
 

In My Bones

Roya DelSol & Kourtney Jackson
CANADA | 2022 | DIGITAL | 3 MIN

ENGLISH

 

In My Bones is a movement piece written and performed by dancer Jaz Fairy J as an ode to the fullness of ourselves as created by our mothers, our mothers’ mothers, and their mothers.

 

Little Revolutions in Humus

Kaya Joan
CANADA | 2021 | DIGITAL | 2 MIN
ENGLISH

 

In her speculative fiction novel Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler writes: “All that you touch, you Change. All that you Change, Changes you. The only lasting truth is Change. God is change”. Little Revolutions in Humus explores fungi as a teacher of all life having the ability to transform, but not without collective contribution, reciprocal relationships, and honouring change as a constant life force.

Atmospheric Arrivals

Ayo Tsalithaba
CANADA | 2021 | DIGITAL | 6 MIN
ENGLISH

 

This film is about home and the (im)possibility of return. The “atmospheric arrival” captures a means of coming into being through memory and imagination. I consider the act of revisiting my personal archives a time-traveling practice that allows me to reach across spacetimes to “fetch” parts of the self that may exist in elsewheres.

Braids

Kaya Joan
CANADA | 2018 | DIGITAL | 8 MIN
NO DIALOGUE

 

Braids contends with intergenerational trauma and healing through the practice of several rituals passed down from my ancestors, through my body.

 

Braids are a marker of identity, culture, and joy. When I braid my hair, I am also braiding the hair of all those who came before me. There is a rich history that lives in my hair and was activated from the moment my mother began to weave it together.
 

Rejoice Resist

Elisha Smith-Leverock
UK | 2020 | DIGITAL | 5 MIN
ENGLISH

 

Rejoice Resist is a film that celebrates and shows Black joy and Black pleasure as the ultimate form of resistance. It highlights the importance of allowing yourself to feel joy, especially in the face of adversity.

 

The film, surreal and lighthearted despite its powerful themes, depicts a woman on a quest to discover this truth.

 

Contoured Thoughts

Evan Ifekoya
UK/ICELAND | 2019 | DIGITAL | 5 MIN
ENGLISH

 

Contoured Thoughts is a meditation on desire, recovery and the rituals of communion. A guide and conspirator alike, Ifekoya takes the viewer to another realm where time all but stands still. Regenerated by the blackness of water and land, the artist offers a moment to share the intimate, the erotic and the otherworldly.

Part Three

Kaya Joan
CANADA | 2020 | DIGITAL | 4 MIN
ENGLISH

 

Part Three is a portal into a dreamscape reality. A being is cast out from their world after nuclear apocalypse sends them into a transformative recluse state underground. Emerging in another-place, they seem to be the only humanoid, and have little recollection of their past life.

 

They are guided through grief, dreams, and blood memory, as the story is told through video, animation, and audio collage.

 

But Some Are Brave

Grace Channer
CANADA | 2007 | DIGITAL | 5 MIN
NO DIALOGUE


But Some Are Brave is an innovative, multi-layered animated film project. This poetic chronicle uses an oil paint-on-glass animation technique. It introduces iconic characters and historic events in a flurry of emotional and psychological rhythms.


Using the metaphor and symbolic structural device of weaving, "But Some Are Brave" takes us through this visual poem like a spindle flying through layers of thread - telling us something of the cultural and political histories of communities under attack.

Cornbread and Communion

Tanika I. Williams
USA | 2019 | DIGITAL | 2 MIN
NO DIALOGUE

 

Cornbread and Communion is a performed liturgy re-imaging Harriet Tubman as a person instead of the mythologized hero. The performance places Harriet Tubman at a table, seated with, surrounded by, an intergenerational circle of sisters supporting, uplifting, upholding each other.

 

This documented performance of Cornbread and Communion occurred during the July 2, 2019 total solar eclipse. It features Tanika I. Williams, Tessa John O'Connor, Stepha LaFond, Nordia Bennett, Tabatha Holley, Anais Sockwell, and Svaha Williams.

  • Roya DelSol is a Black media artist based in Toronto. Working primarily as a lens-based artist, she aims for her work in all spheres to centre and uplift the experiences of Black, queer, and marginalized peoples. She creates photographic, film and VR work, capturing Black femme intimacies, strength and joy in hopes of visualizing new, liberated worlds. Her work has screened at local festivals such as LUMINATO, MayWorks and VenusFest.

  • Kourtney Jackson is a Toronto-based writer and filmmaker interested in hybridized, experimental forms of storytelling that exist within and transcend the physical body. Centred in the socio-cultural collisions of subjectivity, surveillance, and societal prescriptions of identity, her films 1 versus 1 (2018) and Wash Day (2020) have screened locally and internationally at festivals including TIFF Next Wave, BlackStar Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival (Ignite x Adobe), Breakthroughs Film Festival, and Columbus Black International Film Festival.

  • Kaya Joan is a multi-disciplinary Afro-Indigenous artist born, raised, and living in Tkáron:to. Kaya’s work focuses on exploring relationships and responsibility to place and storytelling. Kaya has been working in community arts for 7 years as a facilitator and artist, and is a member of Milkweed Collective.

  • Ayo Tsalithaba is a visual artist, writer, and researcher currently based in Toronto and originally from Ghana and Lesotho. Their work explores questions of home, (in)visibility, liminality and (un)belonging as they relate to Black queer and trans* African diasporic subjects.

  • Growing up with one parent serving in the military, frequent relocation became the norm for director Elisha Smith-Leverock. Now based in Berlin, after a decade in London’s Hackney Elisha’s childhood saw her enjoying the perks of experiencing life in several different countries.

  • Evan Ifekoya is an artist and energy worker who through sound, text, moving image and performance places demands on existing systems and institutions of power, to recentre and prioritise the experience and voice of those previously marginalised. The practice considers art as a site where resources can be both redistributed and renegotiated, whilst challenging the implicit rules and hierarchies of public and social space. Through archival and sonic investigations, they speculate on blackness in abundance. Their ongoing investigation considers the somatic experience of listening, the healing potential of sound and the spiritual dimension of sexuality.

  • Grace Channer’s interdisciplinary practice is located in a transnational, Black Diaspora, decolonial aesthetic. She produces installation works rooted in community activism and social justice issues. Using animation, video, audio sculpture and digital media environments, including AR (Augmented Reality), her work engages in critical black, queer and cultural theory. Her film But Some Are Brave (2007) is the recipient of prestigious international awards.

  • Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-based video and performance artist Tanika I. Williams uplifts womanist uses of mothering and medicine to preserve ancestral wisdoms of earth-centered liberation. Her work has been supported by NYFA, Hi-ARTS, Cow House Studios, MORE Art, BRIC, AiOP, Creative Time, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, Civic Art Lab, and Performa.

Co-presented with

  • CFMDC

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Images Festival would like to acknowledge

The land on which we gather and organize is the territory of the Anishinaabe, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, the Huron-Wendat, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Today, the meeting place of Toronto is home to many Indigenous peoples.

A territorial acknowledgement can demonstrate a coming to awareness, and provoke thought and reflection, all of which are essential in beginning to establish reciprocal relations. This acknowledgement should not function as closure, resignation, or acceptance of the structural conditions of settler colonialism that remain in effect today. The Images Festival will continue to ask what it means for us to keep open a spirit of sustained inquiry into the complexities of our context.