Except this time nothing returns from the ashes
A ghostly, glitched-out poem to under-represented lives in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Troubling the silences and exclusions of institutionalised narratives, the film takes inspiration from readings and stories relating to historic African photography studios. Combining elements of animation, text and experimental sound design Asmaa Jama and Gouled Ahmed channel self-portraiture as an act of resistance and refusal – luxuriating in the potential of what Tina Kampt calls the still-moving-image.
Two lovers, an archivist, a shopkeeper and a singer haunt the city, wearing self-fashioned evocative costumes in this third collaboration between Asmaa Jama and Gouled Ahmed, who impersonate some of the characters themselves. Manipulating their own family portraits with coloured pencils, the artists critique colonial practices and traumatic histories through processes of reenactment and reclamation. “We are unseen beings, we are bright afterimages” cries the poetry of Jama, echoing the erasure and resurrection of those on the periphery. Enlightened by some of the great Malian studio photographers, such as Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé, we are presented with a spectacular mise-en-scène that conjures a generative ritual of awakening. (Ane Lopez)
Asmaa Jama is a Somali artist, poet and filmmaker based in Bristol. As a poet and writer, Jama has been commended for the Brunel African Poetry Prize, shortlisted for the Wasafiri Writing Prize, the New Poets Prize and James Berry Poetry prize, and longlisted in the National Poetry Competition. Their work has been published widely in magazines and journals and commissioned by Arnolfini, Hayward Gallery and Ifa gallery. As a filmmaker, Jama was commissioned by BBC Arts to make Before We Disappear (2021), and by Bristol Old Vic to make The Season of Burning Things (2021). Jama is a Film London FLAMIN Fellow (2022) and a resident artist at Somerset House Studios.
Gouled Abdishakour Ahmed is an artist, stylist, costume designer and writer. Their work explores themes of memory, belonging and futurity using self-portraiture and self-fashioning as a tool to challenge traumatic histories and interrogate how structures of power create meaning and ‘othering’ in the Horn of Africa. They collaborated with Asmaa Jama on Before We Disappear (2021), commissioned by BBC Arts, and The Season of Burning Things (2021), commissioned by Bristol Old Vic (2021). Their work has been shown widely at venues such as V&A Museum, London (2022); Alliance Ethio-Francaise, Addis Ababa (2021); and Beursschouwburg, Brussels (2021)
Asmaa Jama: Except this time nothing returns from the ashes (2024), Before We Disappear (2021), The Season of Burning Things (2022)
Gouled Ahmed: Except this time nothing returns from the ashes (2024), The Season of Burning Things (2022)