|The New World|
At the heart of these ideas sits the contested figure of Pocahontas. 2017 is the 400th anniversary of her time in England and untimely death at Gravesend, aged only 21. Celebrations can be complex: and this anniversary hasn't been without its controversy. Writing in Indian Country Today, Lisa J. Ellwood attacks the way in which the commemorations have seemed to appropriate Pocahontas (or Matoaka, as she was properly known) as a "Great and Powerful English Feminist". Ellwood cites the alternative oral traditions of the Powhatan, which we also explored in our HIDDEN HISTORIES film. According to this tradition, Pocahontas was abducted, raped and eventually murdered: a very different tale. [You can see HIDDEN HISTORIES as part of our REMEMBERING POCAHONTAS event at Syon House on June 15, or in a pre-festival screening at Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham on May 27] Our friend Graham Harvey (part of our TALKS programme) wrote a blog piece on the commemoration at Gravesend, which also problematises it in the light of colonial histories and post-colonial tensions. As a Festival celebrating indigenous culture, ORIGINS can't enter this territory without an overt awareness of its being contested space. So our REMEMBERING POCAHONTAS night will be a Native American ritual, not a Christian one, at a site where she lived, not where she died. It will involve contemporary Native American women who have travelled to England locating their own stories in relation to hers - or what hers might have been. And the film we are screening about her, THE NEW WORLD, is an attempt to move beyond contested histories and into the realm of the mythological - the imaginative space where the real potential for healing can be found.
|Observance by Julie Gough|
of the Arctic landscape and undercutting its construction of the Inuit as primitive "Others". In many ways, this performance is an answer to the colonial writings of history that have continually dogged indigenous peoples - an issue also presented at our other NMM screening, PASSAGE, which sees the slandering of the Inuit by Victorian moralists like Charles Dickens, and the beginnings of reconciliation in the present day. That whole history of mis-representation, leading to self-representation on film is traced in the wonderful (and very funny) documentary REEL INJUN, and countered by the re-invention of indigenous language itself in Christian Thompson's video installation BERCEUSE.
|Spirit of the Ancestors|