Give Birth To Me Tomorrow is the name given to this year’s Artists’ Moving Images Festival (AMIF). Co-curated by artists and writers Tako Taal and Adam Benmakhlouf, in partnership with LUX Scotland and Tramway Glasgow, this festival comprises a series of screening programmes scheduled throughout the year. The first programme (21-24 January) brings together works by Sharon Hayes, Isabel Barfod, De’Anne Crooks, Kyuri Jeon, Sherisse Mohammad and Camille Turner. Viewers are encouraged to consider their strategies ‘for interruption, to undo the formal and psychological trappings of a neo-colonial, white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal, cinema system’. These works, in particular, are ‘joined by their questioning of what it is to announce, or articulate, individual and collective presence – demands of the voice, what it means to be heard clearly in public, and how the performance of the voice forms and shapes our body or bodies’.
The festival’s title ‘Give Birth To Me Tomorrow’ is adopted from Kyuri Jeon’s featured film Born, Unborn and Born Again (2019). This work explores the artist’s struggle to embody the Korean zodiac sign of the White Horse; which comes around every 60 years and, if assigned to a woman, is believed to bring disaster to the men around her. Interwoven into this exploration are the themes of governmental control, bodily autonomy, gender inequality, reproductive rights, tradition and violence.
Sherisse Mohammed and Camille Turner’s work Miss Canadiana (2005) investigates the subject of Canadian identity. This work documents performance artist Camille Turner’s creation and performance of the persona ‘Miss Canadiana’. The artist’s adoption of this title and role as representative of Canadian heritage is disruptive purely based on her being black, which the artist highlights as being ‘perceived as foreign in Canada’. In this performance, the artist also plays on the construct of the beauty queen and society’s surface-level reading of what they encounter.
De’Anne Crooks’ LIEF (2019) focusses on the intersections between mental health and identity. This work shows footage of the artist as a child alongside that as an adult – joy and enthusiasm for life replaced by loneliness and reliance on pills. In her voiceover, the artist states ‘we are the generation that you didn’t want to see fail, but then ensured we did’. The artist also promotes the importance of words, stating ‘If I ever have a daughter, the first thing I will teach her to love will be the word no and I will not let her feel guilty for using it’.
Glasgow-based illustrator and animator Isabel Barfod’s work Hear Me Out (2018) is based on conversations between the artist and young people of different faiths on their prayer experiences. Barfod’s work uses imagery and sound to animate these accounts in a new form – she is particularly interested in the concept of the limitations of the body in space and time.
Based on a transcript of a meeting between the New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug and her vocal coach, Sharon Hayes’ Fingernails on a Blackboard: Bella (2014) addresses class and gender imbalance in political arenas. The film is silent, with the transcript animated on the screen revealing Abzug’s training to lose her regional accent and soften her tone. This silence amplifies the themes of censorship and control.
This thought-provoking and challenging collection of works are available to watch online via LUX Scotland’s website. Give Birth To Me Tomorrow‘s next programme is scheduled to take place on the 13th March.
With grateful thanks to Amy Miles for this review.