PUMZI: a Short film Produced By Inspired Minority and Writer/Director: Wanuri Kahui and Producers: Simon Hansen, Hannah Slezacek and Amira Quinlan. VFX by Atomic VFX. Vfx Supervisor Simon Hansen. Executive Producer Steven Markowitz. Produced with the support of Focus Features Africa First, Goethe Institute and Changamato Fund.
"Fears of “white slavery” were rife in England during the 1880s, when William Stead published his sensational revelations of white girls captured and forced into Continental brothels in the pages of his Pall Mall Gazette. Any of the Londonites reading his “Maiden Tribute” series could not only glut their interest in stories of English roses trafficked into sex-slavery – they could also go to any circus sideshow and see for themselves a ”Circassian beauty” said to have escaped sexual servitude in Turkey.
Any freak show worth its salt in the 1880s included a Circassian Beauty. She was invariably a pale-skinned young woman kitted out like a hippie from the 1970s: puffy silk pants, sheer-flowing coats, and most importantly, a nimbus of frizzy, Afro-style darkish hair. Usually these women had names beginning with ‘Z’: Zana Zanobia, Zoe Meleke, Zula Zeleka, Zalumma Agra, Zoberdie Luti. Often they would seat themselves cross-legged on stage, holding a water-pipe, and looking demurely at the audience as the pitchman presented them as the purest example available of the Caucasian race. Once! (he would say), once this beauty had lived in the Caucasus, that region on the shores of the Black Sea which formed the cradle of all white peoples. She had been crooooooo-elly stolen from her home during a Turkish raid, and afterwards sold in the white slave markets of Constantinople as the member of a harem to an evil Turk. Beautiful as she was, she had been kept veiled from the rest of the world, and made to do her harem-owner’s bidding before being dramatically rescued."
It's amazing the intentional coincidentals that exist between artists. Without going into details, Aisha Tandiwe Bell's work speaks candidly to my recent personal experiences. I am touched and inspired by her layered installations and so, I humbly present a few examples here. A current resident of the Henry Street settlement, she uses ceramics, painting, sound and performance to build a language of "multiple consciousnesses as a means of escape and empowerment."
"Born 1963, Saint Andrew, Jamaica; lives in New York, New York
Nari Ward often reclaims discarded objects and materials found in the urban landscape to create sculptures and installations that evoke memories, experiences, and questions. In earlier bodies of work, he used plastic garbage bags, abandoned baby strollers, glass bottles, landscaping barrier cloth, and fire hoses to raise issues related to consumer culture, poverty, and race. More recent works incorporate oil drums, tar slabs, discarded doors, dried salted codfish, and old television sets to comment on immigration, religion, sex, and patriotism. His juxtapositions are often ambiguous, however, allowing for multiple, open-ended interpretations."