A film screening and residency retrospective with Elsa James
On 8th December, G.AS. Lagos hosted Reflections, an evening screening and conversation with multidisciplinary artist Elsa James. Elsa's residency has taken her to the historically significant sites of Badagry, Oshogbo, and Benin City, each of which holds profound meaning both for Africans based on the continent, and those of African descent in the Caribbean.
The event unfolded in two parts. Opening with a special sophomore screening of her acclaimed 2022 film, Othered in a region that has been historically Othered. This cinematic piece provides a contextual backdrop, offering insights into her Black British and Caribbean heritage. The film juxtaposed against her encounters with institutions, archives, and histories in Nigeria, framed her discussion with her fellow resident at G.A.S. Lagos, TK Smith, who is a curator of Art of the African Diaspora at Barnes Foundation. The conversations rationalized learnings from her residency, and unpacked their impact on her perception of her diasporic heritage.
Othered in a Region That Has Been Historically Othered
A three-part film and original sound work by Elsa James
Runtime: 28:30 mins
In three chapters, 'Othered in a region that has been historically Othered' begins with the fictional presence of Black women during the mid-17th century Essex Witch Trials, when a staggering number of women were innocently persecuted as witches or essentially 'othered', connecting a speculative past with the objective lived experience of the present. The film propels us towards a radical alternative future for Essex, where 'a recovery' has been accomplished via the gift of Jab Jab—a traditional mas played in the Caribbean islands of Grenada and Carriacou since the end of slavery—that acts as a transformative juncture.
'Othered in a region that has been historically Othered' was shown in the main gallery for the solo exhibition of the same title at Focal Point Gallery, between 25 June to 18 Sept 2022. The exhibition was also shortlisted for the Freelands Awards 2021.
Chapter One: Contemporary Echoes of the Subjugation of the Women of Essex. Film Still, (2022), Film still: Dedham Vale, Essex. Andy Delaney
Chapter Two: 'A Jab Jab Awakening Towards a New Essex' (2022), Film still: Dedham Vale, Essex. Andy Delaney
Chapter Three: An Aforfuture Narrative for Essex, (2022), Film still: Under the M25, Thurrock, Essex. Andy Delaney.
Date: Friday 8th December 2023
Time: 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Address: 9b Hakeem Dickson Drive, off TF Kuboye Road, Oniru, Lagos
About Elsa James
Elsa James (born in London, England) is a British African-Caribbean conceptual artist and activist living in Essex, England, since 1999. Her artistic practice is rooted in contemporary Black activism and invested in an ongoing questioning of visibility and belonging that centres Blackness as a methodology for liberation. Through an interdisciplinary, collaborative and research-based practice, she currently works across live performance, film, prints, spoken word, neon, and sound.
She was a finalist for the prestigious Freelands Award with Focal Point Gallery in 2021 and, this year, a nominated recipient of the Henry Moore Foundation Artists Award. Her work is held in private and public collections, including the Government Art Collection and Beecroft Art Gallery, for which she became the first Black British artist to be acquired into the gallery's collection. In 2022, she was named one of the 50 Most Influential People in Essex.