Swallows Utopia
Swallows Utopia reflects on the contested and complex history of Bijlmermeer (the Bijlmer), a neighbourhood in Amsterdam that was designed and built in the late 60’s.The film ruminates on the way the Bijlmer has inhabited different locations within Netherland’s public imaginary, from utopian housing project to crime-infested ghetto. Swallows Utopia thinks through the contradictions of place-making and the continual rub between architectural spaces and the bodies they house. At the centre of the piece is a consideration for the entangled timelines that are made apparent - made visible - by the lives of the immigrants that have made the Bijlmer home. It asks us to think about the violence of the structures we inhabit, to understand that even within that violence life is made, but to question and never settle for violence as the material our structures are made from. Swallows Utopia takes the Bijlmer as a cypher to think about the way housing projects around the world have been made with, or without, particular bodies in mind. It asks us to think about a world created from the continuing legacies of racial capitalism and colonialism and to contend with the ruptures that necessarily appear in the fabric of a world designed from such unsustainable ideas.

The film is about black bodies, resilience, movement, gentrification, and the potential that lies on the horizon of the black imagination. It is about the blurring of worlds and the cross-pollination of ideas and experiences that are made thousands of miles apart. It is about the ways an afro-diasporic condition can be analysed from sites across the world, knitted together by a set of shared and divergent histories.

For me, this is a form that feels really generative and alive. It allows me to dig into contradiction, to play with the ways we think about archives, to puncture the visual field with poetry, to think poetry as more than words on the page, to understand our world as infinitely folded and connected. It is a form that allows me to grapple with the saturation of the media I consume and to do something with it; to put it to use rather than just allow it to wash over me. I made it for a project called Radical Space under the umbrella of Shebang Amsterdam, curated by Richard Kofi and supported by Imagine IC, CBK Zuidoost and Bijlmer Parktheater. The other artists involved were Smita James (NL), Adama Delphine Fawundu (USA), Poernima Gobardhan (NL) and Desta Deekman (NL)
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