Dandelion Eghosa: Soliloquy of a Distant Thunder- Act IV (Performing nostalgia, body memory, and aesthetics of past homes)

’Aeroponic’ – root systems nourished by air – Acts is the name given to the nomadic Dutch Art Institute’s final Kitchen presentations. Each participant addresses one question, as a practice of engagement.

Here you will find the documentation of Dandelion Eghosa's presentation as filmed by Baha Görkem Yalım. The written report is by Hubert Gromny and it includes a summary of the comments by esteemed guest respondents. 




Soliloquy of a Distant Thunder- Act IV (Performing nostalgia, body memory, and aesthetics of past homes)

Dandelion's question: Where do we go from here?

Dandelion's introduction: This series explores the role of performance in (African queer) archival culture through a persistent performance of Din/noise that is important to speech as inseparable from the language and approach that constitutes African queer archival practices. I am interested in disturbance that realigns possibilities for transformative encounters and a reinvention of mother tongue as a language for this expression. It is mediating between me and my own self; between my own self and other selves. The ritual of body memory and mother tongue acts as a vehicle in and out of spaces beyond reach and material visibility. Sustained in this reflection is the concept of a collective thought, “a being with”, the gesture towards other ways of being and what African ways of being, knowing and doing have to offer for healing and thriving past today's continued coloniality.

Hubert's report: The presentation takes the form of a film screening. The black and white video is a storytelling device following narrative composed of images, sounds and words. The protagonist addresses their relationship with the mother, reflecting on the condition of displacement—being far away from home. Through telling stories which seem to be located in the liminal space of a personal letter and poetic renderings the piece creates a place of its own. The speech operates within the dimension of incomprehensibility and evocation juxtaposed with the images and sounds rendering a location in space and time as a reflection of the relationship. “Forgive me for all the words I tell you in the language you cannot understand”. The forest is another protagonist of the story. The opening of the video shows almost a still image of the woods, where only a slight movement reveals a presence of the storyteller. Images are accompanied by sounds of buzzing flies, chirping crickets and splashing water. The images seem to be made in different geographical locations yet they create the consistent feeling of one place. Only a clearing is mentioned to be in France. There are various shots, which locate the storyteller within the place—a portrait with a flower behind the ear, medium shots showing part of the character in a symbolic moment of the film—such as gathering wooden sticks or the closing scene of pouring out the water from two plastic containers. The juxtaposition of various layers of storytelling creates a place, which seems to speak of the connection to mother and relationships beyond that, locating them within the forest floor and air of the wood filled with an untranslatable experience.

Phanuel Antwi observed that the work is an invitation to think of the forest as a location of ceremony and remembrance for the African diaspora. Together with the deep ocean, deep forest crystalizes a sense of burial of those known and not known. The word “debris” describes certain dynamics proposed in the piece—in the scene of picking up sticks, it feels like they are containers of memory, traces of life impossible to be accessed otherwise. It is more than a metaphoric rendering of the object, the piece invites to enter a certain space where traces are scattered and has to be picked up in a literal sense. Phanuel referred also to authors mentioned in the work such as Christina Sharpe and those evoked like Sidiya Hartman, especially her book “Loose Your Mother”. Locating these works reflecting on Blackness in the context of the United States in the forest seemed like opening the portal to other places and other timelines – the work’s own temporalities. At the same time, forest signified distance, a very concrete distance from the mother. Phanuel observed there are two figures of mother in the piece, one very individual and graspable  and one which exceeds personal relationships. The recurring theme of burying something in the ground and unburying evoked this ambiguous character of relationships located between the surface and the subterranean.

Chiara Figone shared that the work touches upon something she learned during living for ten years in Senegal and observing storytellers and griots as vessels of the past. She observed that griots are not buried in the ground but laid to rest inside the baobab trees. The forest in this context and trees seems to be a carrier of memories and carriers of remembrance. A forest is a place of ritual, as storytelling is a ritual. When griots tell the story, each time their bodies are affected by its telling. The memories are thus embodied and the affected body becomes a vessel of history. There is a lot in the piece, which seems to share such a modality of telling—by testifying how the body is impacted by memories, is a vessel for them, and a portal.

Momtaza Mehri noted that from all places invoked in the film, the moment of reconciliation takes place in the clearing in France. In that way the work strongly comments on the diasporic experience. Momtaza pointed out also to the gesture of pouring water, which resembled two things—a ritualistic libation but also pouring gasoline. These two aspects were also present in the vocalized text dealing with the figure of the mother but also the legacy of various mothers. The association with the gasoline and potential destruction tap into the feeling of generational grief and diasporic experience as a rupture, which does not allow to escape from one’s unavoidable inheritance able to reach you and devour from upside down. In other words, connection to home is also a reminder of the expectations of the elders which can burden dreams one carries. To live Black diaspora is to live in fiction (paraphrasing Dionne Brand). Referring to the scene of picking up sticks Momtaza commented on archival culture and proposed to see the ground/soil as becoming an archive for the diasporic subject dealing with nostalgic imagination of the motherland. Mentioning the work of Joy James, Momtaza closed her response by speaking about the work as managing to un-glorify care, which sometimes can reach an unsustainable stage of caring for oneself and the other. The piece in this sense was creating a necessary space for breath.

Dandelion Eghosa's "Soliloquy of a Distant Thunder- Act IV (Performing nostalgia, body memory, and aesthetics of past homes)" was presented before live audience at the Centrale Fies, Dro, Italy on July 14th.

Find the overview of all 24 AEROPONIC ACTS 2022 here: tuttə (le) rottə - all (the) ways: unfixed