Ephraim Asili. Fluid Frontiers. Sala Z

Ephraim Asili. Fluid Frontiers. Sala Z ["Home coming". © Oona Mosna]

From: Saturday, 04 June 2022

To: Sunday, 17 July 2022

Empowering Acts: A Brief Reflection on Fluid Frontiers

Liberation is a hard thing to pin down. It is highly elusive. It often operates under the cover of darkness, sometimes only leaving a subtle trace of its existence – moving from one location to another through hushed tones and clandestine movements – evading surveillance at every turn, waiting for just the right moment when individual whispers are ripe enough to be transformed into a collective shout.

In Ephraim Asili’s Fluid Frontiers, the fifth and final film in his remarkable series entitled The Diaspora Suite – a project that saw Asili journey to Ethiopia, Brazil, Ghana, Jamaica and the United States in search of unifying markers of connection between African descendant people, poems take a back seat to the people who activate, process and reimagine them.

Asili documents Detroit/Windsor natives as they read passages aloud from books published by Broadside Press, an independent Detroit-based publishing company founded by Dudley Randall in 1965. Featured books include works by artists such as Audre Lorde, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Margaret Walker, Don L. Lee, Etheridge Knight and Dudley Randall. What is most striking about the encounter is the self-reflective quality of the readers, who often pause at irregular breaks in the poem to reflect on what they are reading. And if you pay close attention, you can actually see their eyes processing the information.

At different points in Fluid Frontiers, Asili shifts away from this encounter and focuses on the local environment. Coupled with images of stillness, we hear the voice of poet Margaret Walker reciting “Harriet Tubman”, bringing the Black Arts Movement in direct contact with The Underground Railroad. Then Asili cuts back to Black Detroit/Windsor natives reading poems in the streets, whose active presence supplies the words with the empowering acts that they need in order to come into being. In this moment, the presentness of the past is undeniable and liberation, much like the poems without the readers, feels unfinished. Perhaps that is the point.

Darol Olu Kae

Brochure Press Release


The Z Gallery is a space that explores new ways of associating film with art. It is neither a film season in a cinema nor a typical exhibition. It is a project that constructs a third space in the museum from which to visualise and analyse works by artists approaching the cinematographic field and filmmakers exploring the exhibition format. It is a programme that was created to think about the moving image in the museum, introducing authors seeking new narrative forms by questioning the conventions, genres and categorisations that have historically defined cinematographic language. Curator: Garbiñe Ortega

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