Yinka Esi Graves: The Disappearing Act (Work in Progress Shorts)


With a short film each evening, flamenco dancer Yinka Esi Graves explores specific sites, thresholds in Spain once connected to their Afro-Andalusian population and in Ghana, spaces of no return. To each site an improvisation. This as a way of accessing an honest language with which to speak to the question central to The Disappearing Act, one of visibility and presence. This series of short art films made in collaboration with film director Miguel Angel Rosales are an integral part of the development of Graves’ current work in progress, which will be presented in next year’s festival.

Content Guidance: The Bridge contains partial nudity.

Tuesday 12 May
1. THE COAST- the point of no return/departure

Residence time: “the amount of time it takes for a substance to enter the ocean and then leave the ocean. Human blood is salty, and sodium… has a residence time of 260 million years.” Christina Sharpe ‘In the Wake’.

Standing between Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle, facing the waters. How to stand in the present /past? How to stand with what is still with us despite apparent disappearance? How to stand in the residence time of those lost to the waters…. those who continue to be lost to the waters, lost to the….?

Wednesday 13 May
2. THE COAST II- for those who stayed

How to reattach the optics to value what has long been made un-seeable?

Thursday 14 May
3. THE BRIDGE- the place of arrival/ where the drowning continues

El Puente de San Telmo, Seville, Spain. I used to cross this bridge regularly on my way to class. I always felt a strange downward pull as I crossed it and I remember thinking one day: I have people in this river. I later found out this was once the Puerto de Cuba. The port where the ships from the point of no return disembarked.

What does this place have to tell me about who is viable and so therefore visible and who is not viable and so therefore invisible?

Friday 15 May
4.THE FOREST- possible flight
Crypsis: the ability an animal has to avoid observation or detection by other animals. It may be a predation strategy or an antipredator adaptation. Methods include camouflage, nocturnality, subterranean lifestyle and mimicry.

The Disappearing Act will be Yinka Graves’ first solo work. Currently a work in progress, the flamenco dancer is speaking to what she views as the constant play between being seen and not being seen in the flesh of an African descendent in the diaspora. Shape shifting and employing acts of camouflage as forms of being physically present in a hostile environment.

“As part of the development for the work, it felt necessary to experience specific sites that had once acted as thresholds in the context of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. Spaces in Spain that today bare no visible trace or recognition of the violence and trauma they were once witness to, and in Ghana, spaces of no return.
Engaging with each site through improvisation was a way of accessing an honest language with which to speak to the question of visibility and presence.
I collaborated with film maker Miguel Angel Rosales to archive these responses. This medium has always fascinated me as one of the main spaces through which the body is judged commodified and consumed.

I am ultimately interested in spaces that transcend the real, but which are deeply connected to the physical, to the threshold of where skin meets atmosphere, body meets space.

We have created four short films one for each site followed by an Afterthought.”

This film will be available, free of charge, for 24 hours from the advertised start time. Want it longer? For a minimum donation of £10, you can purchase a Festival Pass, giving you unlimited access to all festival content until 11.59pm (BST) on Sunday 31 May 2020.

If you would like to support Serendipity and LDIF, please consider making a donation in lieu of purchasing a ticket: paypal.me/AlternativeLDIF20

LDIF Programme

Full Programme
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