Four centuries of American reminders
On my skin
Elders bare stripe welts
My inheritance from the gone
On my back
The pistol is there
On the block
This poem was inspired by the movie Asientos directed by Francois Woukoache. I watched it and felt moved to write and wrote two poems. American reminders was the first. Asientos is a powerful film about slavery’s past. Memory and representation are key themes.
In a sit-down interview with Olivier Barlet Woukoache said about making the film, “it struck me that the cinema was the perfect means of addressing the question, as we have no images of it! There are only a few drawings, wh
ich were often done for propaganda purposes. Nothing on the African side. Accounts are extremely rare. Images are the obligatory path into the subject.”
“The wave of filmmakers in the Eighties tried to change the image of Africa without asking the question at what time the image they rejected emerged. It was at the time of the slave trade, when the Black man was defined by the Other as an object. The film Asientos is based on this postulate. The desire was to express something different, which had no connection with what I had already seen, particularly in African film. People had to feel that this film was necessary both in terms of subject and form, otherwise it would have been pointless.”
I saw Asientos at a film festival in Ann Arbor. It’s one of those hard to get your hands on movies that isn’t on DVD yet like Looking For Langston directed by Issac Julien. I can’t wait to see that movie.