work-in-progress

The main idea I am proposing is a little further down the page. But the first 5 paragraphs are important; so please be patient and read.

At some point soon, we (Bindu, Didier & Florence) need to discuss if we will submit separate documents or one document clearly indicating our common theme of NEW PLACE.

What I have presented below is not my final written proposal. But rather, some of what will form a substantial part of my project proposal. First of all, I need to present a brief background before I describe some of the key aspects and questions I wish to explore in my project. This is necessary in terms of context and locating myself.

Background: I am the ‘one who left home’. I am geographically separated from my traditional homeland; this is how I became part of this very innovative iaa “international multi-stage art project”

On our ‘special’ podium of NEW PLACE, we have been having a 3-way dialogue – between THE ARTIST WHO LEFT, THE ARTIST WHO STAYED and THE ARTIST WHO LIVES BETWEEN LONDON AND DELHI, but originally from India. Our three-way dialogues have generated a lot of inspiring ideas that led 3 of us to identify (and agree) a common theme to explore for our project (s) – the notion of New Place. We agreed to individually interpret the theme in any way we wanted. I have decided to develop a project that is related somehow to the reason why I am part of this iaa project in the first place – that is, being ‘here’ in Britain; away from my traditional homeland. I am in the diaspora.

I am part of the New African Diaspora – ‘New’ because our ‘recent’ journeys happened soon after we became ‘independent’ from our European colonisers; we are the post-colonial immigrants as opposed to the movement & displacement of African people due to the Transatlantic Slave Trade – the forced voyages across the Atlantic.  

The project Idea is called In-between Lives (working title)

Here are some key elements and issues to explore: Living ‘here’, away from my place of birth, means that I am literally in a ‘new’ space, and I am also a visible minority with ‘newly’ acquired status. This new state of being comes with certain challenges and issues around belonging to two worlds – the host society and our homeland to which we are still attached to in many different ways.  

This project is not directly about me - it will be based on other Cameroonians who are in my similar position – like me, they left our ‘traditional homeland’; they now live ‘here’, in the diaspora, and are part of what constitutes multi-cultural Britain. I am curious to explore the idea of NEW PLACE by looking at how others like me deal with the challenges of being in-between two worlds and cultures.

Stories of migration are not new; they are a common feature of African identity, like many other people who have moved and relocated for various reasons. Some of these people and their stories will never be heard. This project aims to tell a small slice of the myriad of diaspora narratives that are particular to Cameroonians who have settled here in Britain.

My idea is to make a creative documentary film that provides an insight into some of the complex issues around living in a new place and still being attached in several ways to the traditional homeland that is vastly different from our host society – different socially, culturally and so on.

The film will focus on 3 main characters (the ‘social Actors’) – their individual narratives will show aspects of their in-between lives, experiences and situations. It will show how their New and Old identities co-exist here; how they find a sense of ‘belonging’ to the host society; how they maintain a strong sense of their specific cultures from ‘home’  - through a manifestation and display of certain cultural forms such as music, dance, food, dress, etc.

Here are a number of questions that will form the basis of how I will attempt to show the in-between lives of the characters: how have they adjusted and integrated ‘here’? What new values do they inhabit? Didier suggested sometime ago that it would be interesting to know how the merging or mixing of different cultures affects the mentalities of people – I like this! Are there any specific social structures, spaces, networks and connections to affirm or preserve aspects of their cultures? What have they lost in the process of settling here? What is missing here, and how do they fill the gaps of the missing bits? What kinds of links do they retain in their homeland? Why? What tangible and intangible aspects of their cultural heritage have they brought here in order to ‘connect’ with ‘home’? – Do these make them a ‘visible’ part of the multi-cultural landscape of British society? Is this ‘New Home’ the final stop, or are they just passing though, to reconnect again with their ‘traditional Home’? Bindu, the constant traveler between big cities and the ‘World Citizen’ said that she has no strong sense of belonging anywhere with regards to a ‘home’; that she does not know where ‘home’ is. This made me to think about how some of us (Cameroonians) experience a state of being in-between ‘here & there’ – homeland & host society; home and away! How do they locate themselves between these two worlds that have different cultures/traditions? Do they reproduce ourselves anew when they move between these two very separate cultural spaces? Is there a sense of being in a state of constant flux when they try to navigate between these worlds? Are they always in a New Place both mentally and physically? One of the characters I have found has been living ‘here’ for 35 years; she runs her own business, and has two (2) children who were born here and are in their 20s. To fully illustrate the idea of in-between lives, it will be necessary to follow this particular character to the ‘traditional homeland’ where there’s another layer of New Place and identity within ‘home’ – a complex and complete reinvention of herself.

Here are some initial ideas or filmic elements: This film will depend on very strong and dynamic visuals; predominantly moving images. I will also incorporate still images (of the characters, objects, locations, etc). Sound will be used sparingly, and the main sources for this will come from either minimal comments or responses, conversations or monologues from the characters – these will link the different images for each character’s section to provide individual portraits in their different contexts or spaces. I will use montage and music as key elements of revealing character and communicating specific ideas and emotion. In some instances, images will collide to create a specific effect. Another important visual aspect of this film will be the use of split screen at various points to illustrate certain aspects and to express or juxtapose specific ideas such as to emphasise the in-between or fractured lives – a sign of modern times?  

Format: Budget permitting, this film will be shot on a High Definition (HD) video camera.

The length would be between 10 or 15 minutes; again depending on what the budget permits.

That’s all for now.

Florence

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