REBIRTH IS NECESSARY BY JENN NKIRU

Curated by Deepti Rao

There’s a lot to unpack in British-Nigerian filmmaker Jenn Nkiru’s powerful video Rebirth is Necessary (2017). It’s like a 10-minute trip through the history, memories, fictions and futures of the African diaspora. An amalgamation of archival footage, quotes, highly stylized portraits and well choreographed dance scenes that form Nkiru’s personal exploration of Blackness.  

Nkriu’s work is deeply rooted in Afrofuturism, what the TATE Museum describes as “a cultural aesthetic that combines science-fiction, history and fantasy to explore the African-American experience and aims to connect those from the black diaspora with their forcefully forgotten African ancestry.” This sub-genre is where stories can be told of a different, more hopeful future.  

With this in mind I re-watched the video for a second and then a third time, now clearly seeing Nkriu’s liquid narrative among the captivating complex chaos. Beginning with a sort of collective chant of the tennets of Afrofuturism: ‘I am the past, the present and the future,’ going into a state of ‘sleep’ in order to survive the brutality of slavery and ending up in an alternate hopeful utopian future.  

"Creating this piece felt like therapy. It's where I got to reconcile my worlds—the material and the spiritual, the human and divine. This film is jazz; black magic in motion. I hope it can be a source of inspiration, affirmation and healing to others as it has been to me, especially the black diaspora." - Jenn Nkiru ( Nowness, 2017).  

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Can’t get enough?  

Watch Nkiru’s meditative music video for Kamasi Washington’s Hub-Tones here and the trailer for her latest work, a short documentary titled ‘Black to Techno’ here 

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