We were invited by production house IF I CAN'T DANCE I DON'T WANT TO BE PART OF YOUR REVOLUTION (Amsterdam) to create a film and podcast project for their Artist Commission Edition IX – Bodies and Technologies. Our project has taken the title Zwarte Ibis: The Spirit of Black Intimacies and is built upon an interview-based creative methodology called the ‘Kitchen Table Talk’ method. With this project, we tackle issues of hyper-sexualisation, cultural fragmentation, and collective remembrance while exploring the boundaries between intimacy and sexuality, freedom and conditioning, and myth and reality.
On Creative Methodologies
With the Zwarte Ibis project, we continue our work of establishing different creative methodologies, which moves away from research and production structures that dehumanize and oppress. By ‘creative methodologies’ we mean to propose forms of research that are not extracitivist but, instead, embedded, engaged and built upon principles of trust and reciprocity. Through an intersectional and decolonial approach, we seek to broaden the notion of what intimacy is, and, within our communities, to co-create modes of being where intimacy and vulnerability are at the center of how Black people can show up for and with each other.
Black Life in the Netherlands
Zwarte Ibis is a poetic exploration of different kinds of non-sexual intimacies – with self and across generations – within African and African diasporic communities around the Netherlands, taking the Amsterdam Bijlmer area as a symbolic center of Black life. With the project, we shine light on the interior lives of project participants and collaborators, starting (critical) conversations around intimacy that can speak to struggles in the public domain but also go beyond them.
Legacies of colonialism impact both the public and private life of Black people, and most often it is the public life that becomes hyper-visibilized. Movements like BLM alongside local activist initiatives in the Netherlands have brought much-needed attention to topics of police brutality, as well as racism in education, the labor market, housing and health care. This work is crucial. With Zwarte Ibis, though, we want to offer something back to our local communities that reflects not (or not only) a hyper-visibilized public life but, also, the vulnerability and resilience (and humor and joy and grief and anger) flowing through private conversations. These are precisely the perspectives that we feel are being missed in most frameworks for diversity and inclusion.
(from left to right: Chris "Ci" Rickets, Smita James, Alexine Gabriela)
The Space of Intimacy
A study of intimacy opens space to share and to talk with each other about the different layers of intergenerational trauma that are felt, as well as the strategies for processing these traumas that different members of the community have developed. Such a space reveals the innovation behind how Black individuals / families / communities understand the past, face the present and dream toward the future, organizing themselves – albeit in ways less visible for a predominantly white gaze – outside of normative structures of intimacy through extended families, kinship networks and communities of solidarity across ethnic divides. Zwarte Ibis looks to vocalize these kinds of Black experiences, centering them in the pursuit of healing and of creating the conditions for Black people to be able to show up as full persons in a world that usually does not grant them the status of full and deserving people.
The Zwarte Ibis project is led by Chris (Ci) Rickets, Emma-Lee Amponsah & Alexine Gabriela.
Learn more about our project and check out our studio page here.
Special thanks to Megan Hoetger for crafting this text with us for the BSB studio page.