REEL: DYKE HANDS | SHORT FILMS BY BLACK LESBIANS*

CURATED BY LANGUID HANDS 

 

MUNESU MUKOMBE  |  LEILA WEEFUR  |   ARIELLA TAI  |  KEARRA AMAYA GOPEE 

CAT JONES | ESSENCE LOTUS  |  NANA DUNCAN  |  RRANGWANE   

+ JAMIKA AJALON 

 

198 CONTEMPORARY ARTS AND LEARNING 

WED 21 FEB – SUN 14 APR 2024 | PRIVATE VIEW: TUE 20 FEB 6-8PM 

GALLERY OPENING HOURS  

 MONDAY & TUESDAY: VISITORS BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. TO REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT PLEASE EMAIL SHANE@198.ORG.UK 

WEDS – FRI: 11AM – 5PM | SATURDAY & SUNDAY: 12PM – 5PM 

198 Contemporary Arts and Learning is pleased to present REEL: Dyke Hands, a group show of short films by black lesbians.* From an international open call that received over 50 submissions from across the globe, Languid Hands have selected short films from 8 artists to be displayed on a loop in the gallery for eight weeks. Selected works are made by artists from the USA, UK, Trinidad & Tobago and Botswana, and include artist moving image, narrative, mockumentary, essay film and archival assemblage. 

Munesu Mukombe’s Everything Happens Under The Sun interweaves elements of poetry, musical theatre, abstract imagery, and sound design to chronicle the artists personal encounters with isolation and alienation, delving into the loneliness inherent in confronting societal discrimination. Leila Weefur’s Tillage & Fury is a portrait of anger as a product of Black ecology; an essay-film exploring the eco-geography of rice cultivation and the life cycle of the fly, both of which are indelibly linked to Black life. Ariella Tai’s look back at me uses digital glitch and analog video processing tools to create visual and sonic altars for Black femme pleasure, play, revenge and possibility. Kearra Amaya Gopee’s Ca(r)milla appears to be an excerpt from a documentary surrounding the daily life of the owner of a small landscaping business in Carapichaima, Trinidad and Tobago, however, the owner, is a hybrid of a vampire and a soucouyant. Gopee’s an excision spell is an intra-communal call to arms and self-determination in the face of white supremacist violence. Cat Jones’ The Quiet One explores the interpersonal processing that occurs usually alone, and Reverence serves as a visual & auditory reclamation of Trans Masculine existence through performance. Essence Lotus’ A Proper Burial presents ‘stolen’ imagery & sounds of black communal practices of movement, music, art, thought and language as embodied practices of survival for folks across the African Diaspora. Written by Nana Duncan and directed by Juliana Kasumu, Losing Joy is a narrative short, shot artfully on 16mm film, focusing on a young woman struggling to acknowledge the first anniversary of her sister’s death. Rrangwane’s MOSAMO / ancestral alterations, is a slightly longer-form work which will be presented on a separate screen and, focuses on dreams and hallucinations; dreams of disruption, revelation, critique, restoration, spirited schemes, regeneration and of unprecedented being. 

In addition to the works selected for REEL, the exhibition will include a curated research library of books from Languid Hands’ own collection exploring Black Lesbian identity, Black Queerness and Feminism. And we’re excited to be presenting a selection of experimental films by interdisciplinary artist and author Jamika Ajalon, spanning from the 1990’s until today, and were made in the U.S., Paris, and London, specifically Brixton and Portobello. Jamika’s films come directly out of her writing practice, taking the form of experimental documentaries, poetic and sonic videos, exploring the perspectives of black women, language, revolution, intimacy and space. Jamika will join us for a reading and conversation event on March 21st, more information to come.

REEL: Dyke Hands is part of Dyke Hands, an ongoing artistic programming strand focusing on the work of dykes, lesbians, and queer and trans people more broadly, exploring their work through various disciplines including poetry, writing, film, performance, & music. 

*We use the terms ‘dyke’ and ‘lesbian’ in an intentional and inclusive way. Our programming centres lesbians and is open to queer and bisexual women, transmasculine people, transfeminine people, intersex & non-binary people who feel comfortable with those (or similar) terms in relation to their identity.

ARTIST BIOS 

Jamika Ajalon is a prolific author and interdisciplinary artist who works with different mediums independently, but also in multiple fusions—incorporating written and spoken text, sound/music, and visuals. Her poems, stories, and essays have been published in various publications internationally including the 1995 book Afrekete: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Writing. Her debut novel Skye Papers was published in 2021 by The Feminist Press. She currently writes a regular column for Itchy Silk magazine, “queer plume: the fugitive diaries.” She has performed her audiovisual anti-lectures / sonic slam and exhibited across the globe, and has a BA in Film/Video and an MA in Communications in Culture and Society, from Goldsmiths University. 

 

Kearra Amaya Gopee (they/them) is an anti-disciplinary visual artist from Carapichaima, Kairi (the larger of the twin-island nation known as Trinidad and Tobago), living on Lenape land (New York, NY). Using video, sculpture, sound, writing and other media, they identify both violence and time as primary conditions that undergird the anti-Black world in which they work: a world that they are intent on working against through myriad collective interventions. They render this violence elastic and atemporal–leaving ample room for the consideration and manipulation of its history, implications on the present and possible afterlives. In the spirit of maroonage, they have been developing an artist residency in Trinidad and Tobago titled a small place, after Jamaica Kincaid’s book of the same name. They hold a MFA from University of California, Los Angeles; BFA in Photography and Imaging from New York University, and are an alum of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. They have recently held fellowships from Queer|Art and MacDowell, and they are currently an Elaine G. Weitzen ISP Studio Program Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program. 

 

Nana Duncan (she/they) is a Screenwriter/Producer and Podcaster. Nana learned film theory and practical filmmaking at Kingston University. As a writer she has showcased a handful or her work at the National Theatre Studio and Soho Studio. She was also accepted into The Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writers Programme in 2011. In 2019, Nana wrote, produced and directed her first short; LOVED BY YOU, a visual poetic exploration of queer black love. LOVED BY YOU is available to watch on YouTube. In 2021, she wrote and produced her second short film LOSING JOY; about a young woman who struggles to acknowledge the first anniversary of her sister’s passing. The production was partly funded by Plan to Action Fund and online fundraising via Go Fund Me. The rest came by Executive Producers; babirye bukilwa, Adjani Salmon and British Rapper Dave. In 2022, LOSING JOY was selected at BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival and BlackStar Film Festival making it a BAFTA qualifying film. LOSING JOY was nominated for best short at BlackStar Film Festival and Edinburgh International Film Festival. 

 

Cat Jones (he/him) is a multi-media artist and independent curator whose work is centred around identity, self-acceptance, and reflection. He uses his years of mental health work to gauge his practice and influence narratives that are necessary to highlight; work that centres on the interpersonal dialogue one has with the external world, in ways that are inviting, sharp, and warm. As a DJ, his sets are also meant to examine these external worlds while inciting excitement, curiosity, self-reflection, and compassion. Cat has most recently curated for Oyoun, & LACE; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, and holds a BA in Human Services from California State University of Fullerton. 

 

Essence Lotus (she/they) is a Brooklyn-born Panamanian transfemme. She is new to formal art, having gained most of her experience in street performing (acrobatics + breakdance) across the many streets and trains of New York, New Jersey, and Boston, and then later receiving acting training at the Experimental Theatre Wing in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has since been blessed enough to perform in Donja Love’s Off-Broadway production of Soft at MCC in 2022. She is honestly just grateful enough to be a living practicing artist in a time when there is so much precarity affecting the lives of black trans folks globally. 

 

Munesu Mukombe (she/they) is a London-based multidisciplinary artist specialising in writing, performance, and film. Her work revolves around autobiographical narratives that create intimate and vulnerable spaces, inviting audiences to explore abstract emotions related to themes such as grief, racial oppression, interpersonal relationships, and self-actualisation. 

 

ariella tai (b. 1987 queens, nyc) is an experimental filmmaker, artist and independent programmer currently based in Portland, OR. tai is one half of “the first and the last,” a fellowship, workshop and screening series supporting and celebrating the work of black women and femmes in film, video and new media art. They have shown work at Anthology Film Archives, Portland Institute For Contemporary Art, Northwest Film Center, Wa Na Wari, the Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival, MOCA and Smack Mellon, amongst others. 

 

Leila Weefur (he/they/she), is an artist, writer, and independent curator based in Oakland, CA. Their interdisciplinary practice, centered around architectural video installation, examines the performative elements connected to systems of belonging, present in Black, queer, gender-variant life. The work brings together concepts of sensorial memory, Black eco-geographies, and the erotic. Weefur has worked with local and national institutions including Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts, The Kitchen NYC, Locust Projects Miami, The Wattis Institute, McEvoy Foundation, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Museum of the African Diaspora, and Smack Mellon. Weefur is an educator at Stanford University and a member of the curatorial film collective, The Black Aesthetic. 

 

Languid Hands (Lead Curators, 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning) is a London-based artistic and curatorial collaboration between filmmaker and DJ Rabz Lansiquot and artist and writer Imani Mason Jordan. The duo explore collaboration, curation, black study and experimentation across exhibitions, moving image, text, performance, publications and public programming.  

198’s Artistic Programme is supported by Arts Council England, Freelands Foundation and Lambeth Council.