JESSICA HORN is a feminist activist, writer, doer and an interpreter of the ordinary. She is the author of the poetry collection Speaking in Tongues, and she is an advocate of the theory and practice of revolutionary love. Horn hosts the pop-up poetry and music night, The Love Mic in London, and co-curates the Tumblr blog, Our Space is Love. She works in the field of women’s rights – where the defense of women’s rights to health, bodily autonomy and freedom from violence is very central to the work she does.
Jessica Horn is bringing all of that revolutionary and feminist love to this year’s festival by way of woman, rise - a special collaboration project with Ghanaian muralist, Ayambire Faustina Nsoh, who descends from a tradition of women-led painting that carries lessons and messages around ethics and social relations, as well as a practice in space and design making daily life more beautiful.
Visually, woman, rise, draws on how Nsoh learned how to paint from her grandmother in Sirigu, northern Ghana, and the global activist tradition of political murals, graffiti and stenciling.
Horn’s project does some critical probing by asking these questions:
When we dream of African freedom, do we dream in the colors of our grandmothers’ cloths? Do we dream in the voice of young women rallying in a public square for an end to tyranny? And as we dream, do we hear the sound of women spirit mediums fortifying our souls by humming the ancestors into our midst? These women crafters of our liberation- do we know their names? These women who have offered heartbeat and intellect and magic to clear space in the world so all of us can breathe do we know their faces?
When discussing how this project relates to the theme of the festival, the Director of Programmes for the African Women’s Development Fund, had this to say:
CHALE WOTE’s theme poses a challenge – how do we think beyond the terms of the structures of the world that we have now which although filled with beauty is also framed by persistent forms of domination and injustice. Art in my experience is always a spiritual act, a process of channeling energies, histories, concepts and offering them back to the world through aesthetics. So art is central to engaging and dismantling or even imagining our ways beyond the ‘robot’ of structural domination.
woman, rise explores the spirit of African women’s dynamic contributions to shaping selves, communities and a world that is equal. It invokes the history of African women who have worked against the grain of social expectations and offered their spiritual, intellectual and emotional power to the work of social change.
Arundhati Roy speaks of another world that is not only possible, but on her way. She can hear her breathing on a quiet day.Living up to her Ugandan nickname, Akiiki, which translates to English as “the Nurturer,” and doubles as the name of her consultancy, Akiiki Consultancy, Jessica Horn is indeed one of the many spirits looking after and nurturing this other world.
The woman, rise art intervention will be stationed at in front of Bible House on August 20 – 21st.
By MOSHOOD BALOGUN.