Frontiers of Silence, dir. Olivia Douglass, videography Anita Safowaa, with Ebun Sodipo, Courtney Conrad, & Esther Heller, UK 2021, 12 min.
‘To move beyond the boundary of fear — of penetration— un-wanted and unwanting— c(o)untouring the inner space— to find the source and sound of our silencing, we must become cartographers of silence, mapping not only the known edges— the boundaries of our space — but moving beyond the boundary. To take soundings of the deep where the voice is not one but “the many-voiced one of one voice/ours...” polyvocal and many tongued.’
– M. NourbeSe Philip, A Genealogy of Resistance
Frontiers of Silence is a series of short films featuring readings by poets Ebun Sodipo, Courtney Conrad and Esther Heller. Each writer reads newly commissioned poems that respond to ‘Silence(s)’ as a reoccurring concern throughout the work of writer M. NourbeSe Philip.
Strange Echoes curator Olivia Douglass writes: ‘Out of fragmented archive material, lost history and silenced experiences, Philip retrieves what language is left to express what ‘cannot be told’. From this language of silence, she creates life giving poetry that affirms us that our knowing, holding and mapping of our silence(s) is a form of resistance, leading us beyond fear and towards new life and liberation'.
Each of the poets and poems featured in Frontiers of Silence delves into the multiplicities of Black life and continues Philip’s work of ‘c(o)untouring silence'.
Esther Kondo Heller is a poet, writer, and experimental poetry filmmaker. They are a Barbican Young Poet 18/19, Black Obsidian fellow, and Ledbury Critic. They have performed their poetry amongst other places at the Roundhouse, Literary Colloquium Berlin, and the Barbican. She is currently doing an MFA in poetry at Cornell University. Kondo Heller hosts a monthly radio show called Poetic Healing with Zen & Kondo, THFradio Berlin.
Courtney Conrad is a Jamaican poet. Her poetry explores the intersectional politics of race, religion, gender, sexuality and migration. She is a current member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and the London Library Emerging Writers Programme. She is an alumna of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective. Her poems have appeared in The White Review, Magma Poetry, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, Stand Magazine, and Poetry Wales, and anthologised by Bad Betty Press and Anamot Press. She was the Bridport Prize 2021 Young Writer Award recipient, shortlisted for The White Review Poet's Prize 2020 and longlisted for the Rebecca Swift Women Poets’ Prize 2020 and The Rialto Nature and Place Poetry Competition.
Ebun Sodipo makes work for those who will come after: the black trans people of the future. Her interdisciplinary practice narrates her construction of a black trans-feminine self after slavery and colonialism. Through a process of fragmentation, collage, and fabulation, she devises softer, other-wise ways of imagining and speaking about the body, desire, archives, and the past. Her work has been shown, read, watched, and performed at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning Centre, Bernie Grants Arts Centre, Narrative Projects, Raven Row, The Block Museum of Art, South London Gallery, Arcadia Missa’s How To Sleep Faster, Auto Italia, ICA, Tate Britain, Embassy Gallery, Wasafiri, CCA Annex, Camden Arts Centre, and Frieze. She was artist-in-residence at Porthmeor Studios, and Gasworks. She is currently working on commissions for VISUAL Carlow, FACT Liverpool. She also teaches at Falmouth University.