WeTransfer | WePresent in Collaboratian with Barbican | Debo Amon – Julianknxx in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, The Tree That Saw Everything

Julianknxx in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, The Tree that Saw Everything

WeTransfer presents Black Corporeal (Between This Air)

Gepubliceerd 1 jun 2021


Black Corporeal (Between This Air) is A Critical Examination on the Relationship between Materiality, and the Black Psyche. Exploring the Idea that Our Ability to Breathe, an Act that is Continuously Challenged by Everything from Air Pollution, Stress and Anxiety and Societal Prejudice, is More than Our Lungs Ability to Take In Air, but A Reflection of the Way we Live Individually and Together. Black Corporeal (Between This Air) Engages with Both the Physical and Meta Physical Aspects of Breathing and Asks if We can Not Reposition Ourself through the Extrinsic, the Creation of Black Structures and Realities that Allow Us to Breathe, Freely.

Director Julianknxx
Producer Claire Pearson
Executive Producer Debo Amon
Executive Producer Patrick Bedeau
Director of Photography Pablo Rojo
Art Director Harris Elliott
Editor Harry Deadman

Sophia Brown
Amron Adams


Choral Leader
Celestina Diamond

Philippa Brobbey
Cathryn Jackson
Lawrence Rowe
Red Farrell
Annette Bowen
Deborah Frimpong

Ellah P Wakatama
Jason Jules


Original Score James William Blades
Cello Jonthan Gibson
Violin Oliver Mayo

First Assistant Director Amron Adams
Stylist Fahrad Noir
Stylist Assistant Reis Dendle

Art Department
Phil Welch
Sam Jellyman
Focus Pullers
Ewan Sadler
Tamia Diaz

2nd Assistant Camera Nick Milligan

Camera Trainee Rita Monteiro

Gaffer Leo Olesker

George Wright
Yeh Love
Sound Recordist Francesco Corazzi
Hair and Make up Natasha Livesey
Hair and Make up Assistant Shani Mushington
BTS Aiden Harmitt Williams
Eden Tekle
Joseph Gathercole Smith

Post Production
VFX Dan Fenton
Colourist Jonny Tully Tag Creative Arts

Special Thanks
Kazvare Knox
Procam Take 2
The Vintage Showroom
Flat 5

Commissioned by WeTransfer

Holly Fraser
Danielle Boellin


Chorus in Re Memory of Flight” (Online Edition)

Published 18 sep 2023


Exclusive Online Edition of “Chorus in Re Memory of Flight” by Julianknxx, A Multi Screen Film Installation Borne Out of A Year in Which Julianknxx has Travelled to Cities across Europe to Collaborate with Choirs, Politicians, Dancers, Activists and Leading Figures from their Black Communities. Through A Practice of Active Listening, he has Collected their Performances, Testimonies, and Contexts to Create A Series of Films that Reflect on the Chorus as A Means of Resistance to the Eradication of Difference.

Julianknxx’s New Exhibition “Chorus in Rememory of Flight” opens at The Curve, Barbican Centre in London on September 14, 2023. The Exhibition has Been Co Commissioned by the Barbican and WePresent by WeTransfer in Partnership with Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, with Support from 180 Studios and De Singel.


WePresent has Partnered with the Barbican to Co Commission Sierra Leonean Artist Julianknxx’s New Multi Media Film Installation “Chorus in Rememory of Flight.” For this Piece of Work, the Artist Traveled around Europe, Exploring Largely Untold Stories of Black and African Diasporic Realities and Collaborating with Local Musicians and Choirs. The Project will Be On Show in The Curve gallery at the Barbican, London from 14 September 2023 to 11 February 2024.

In this Part of his European Journey, Julianknxx Traveled to Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Writer Debo Amon Explores How we Memorialize and Remember Our Selves beyond the Continual Failures of Societal Structures.

Our Stories Persist Even when their Structures Fail Us, Nature holds Us Still, 
in the Passing of the Wind.

In 1979 Architect Siegfried Nassuth could Give No More, So he Left his Office without A Word of Goodbye and Resigned his Dream. He had Imagined A Modernist Utopia Cast in Concrete and Mamed it Bijlmer Meer, Bijlmer. Located Just Outside of Amsterdam, this Dream, A Modernist City of Concrete Housing Towers, took Form in the Late 60‘s. It was Here, the Point at Which Dream gave Way to Reality, that the Problems began. Beset with Issues from the Outset, the Initial and Intended Middle Class Residents were Dissatisfied with the Delayed Infra Structure and Mis Judged Urban Design. The Initial Excitement of this City of the Future Soon Waned and Much of its Housing was Left Empty.


When Those Who have the Privilege of Choice abandon their Dreams, What Happens with What they Leave Behind? As with Many Colonial Empires after the Second World War, A Large Number of People from the Netherlands’ Current and Former Colonies Moved to their Colonial Mother Land. The Vacant Flats in Nassuth’s Dream City, the Bijlmer, were Now Being Occupied by A Pre Dominantly Black Population from Surinam, Who were Not Granted Citizenship of the Kingdom of The Netherlands until the 1950‘s. The Arrival of Black Populations from Suriname and the Dutch Caribbean was Not A Welcome One by the White Population of Bijlmer, Nor their Housing Associations, it was Not Long after their Arrival that Nassuth Left Bijlmer Altogether.

Bijlmer became A Place for Those Who had No Other recourse, from the LGBTQ Community to Guest Workers from Turkey, Morocco, and Ghana. As is the Story of White Flight, the Already Existing Problems with Bijlmer were Made Worse Now that There was Less Political and Social Urgency to Dedicate Resources to the New Communities that had Arrived. This Remained the Case until Tragedy brought Bijlmer and Its Residents into Sharp Focus for the Government and Society.

On October 4 1992, A Cargo Plane Crashed into an Apartment Building at Bijlmer. By Official Counts the Tragedy of El AI Flight 1862 left 43 people Dead but it was Likely More Due to the High Number of Undocumented People Living There. It was this Tragedy that Gave the Authorities the Final Impetus to Re Design Bijlmer and to Engage with the Local Community. Yet Now, after the Devastation and Reconstruction of Both Buildings and Community, Gentrification has Brought Disdain, Negligence, and Tragedy onto Those Who Survived Once Again.


It’s Here in this Experience that Julianknxx Reaches toward De Boom Die Alles Zag (The Tree That Saw Everything) as A Starting Point to Explore How we Memorialize and Remember Ourselves beyond the Continual Failures of Societal Structures.

For All the Things that Struck me about Ryan Coogler’s Film “Black Panther” (2018), It was the Scene Where Our Protagonist, King T’Challa, First Visits the “Ancestral Plane” that Sticks with me. He’s Buried in Red Clay Sand After Drinking an Elixir Meant to Return his Black Panther “Powers”. Once Buried he Emerges in A Vast Grassland Filled with Acacia Trees, the Largest of Which has Five Literal Black Panthers Sitting in its Branches. One of the Panthers jumps Down from the Tree and Transforms into his Recently Murdered Father, the Former King and Black Panther T Chaka. This is A Moment for T Challa to Commune with his Father, Seek Advice and Process his Grief, to Later Emerge from the Ancestral Plane with his Powers Returned.

Black Panther‘, A Black Super Hero Film Set to Break the Box Office

Published 16 feb 2018

Voice of America

VOA wordt Deels of Volledig gefinancierd door de Amerikaanse Overheid. Wikipedia (Engels)

Ryan Coogler’s Super Hero Film “Black Panther,” Based on the Marvel Comic, is about A King of A Technologically Advanced African Country. His Superb Fighting Skills are Enhanced by his Mystical Powers and Vibranium Crafted Black Panther Suit. The Film has Created A Buzz Worldwide for Its Cinematography, Special Effects, Great Cast and Especially Its Homage to African Culture.

VOA’s Penelope Poulou has More.

Originally Published at https://www.voanews.com/a/black-panther-black-superhero-film-set-break-box-office/4256619.html


While visiting Bijlmer, Julianknxx spoke to Artist, Activist and Trouble Shooter of All kinds, Quinsy Gario. Quinsy talks of The Tree That Saw Everything as A Monument, Both in the Significance Given It by the Survivors and Community of Bijlmer, but Also in the Active Support Needed to Care for the Tree and by Proxy the Memories of Those Who Imbue It with Meaning.

I’ve Never Felt the Pull Some Others Do to Trees. They Never Really Spoke to me. I didn’t Grow Up Hugging Them or Even Climbing Them. They were More an Aesthetic Feature of my Urban Landscape. But I see this Image and Know This One Speaks. This Tree, the One that Saw Everything, Still Stands Despite the Weight of All it Knows. It tells Tales of Utopian Dreams Built in Brutalism. It Says They were Nothing New, that Dreams like Those are Not Built for Us, but as Before, They Stand on our Backs and Crumble at Our Doors. It Asks for My Name. Says it Knows My Roots. Says They had Stretched Here Long before I Arrived. I Ask it of my Ancestors. It says their Yorka is in the Next Plane and their Kra Remains in Our Rituals.


From Spiders, to Alien Heritage or Just Simply Wealth, Super Hero Films have Many Explanations for How Heroes are Bestowed with their Powers and “Black Panther” Follows A Similar Trajectory, Yet by Grounding Its Lore in this Sort of Ritual and Ceremony, Black Panther’s Super Powers are Positioned Just as Much A Result of his Connection to his Ancestors, in A System of Reckoning and Reconciliation with Loss, Grief and Heritage. Ceremonies Such as These are Common through Black and African Cultures. In her Interview with Juliaknxx, Peggy Brandon, Director of Mocca Amsterdam and Curator for the Newly Founded National Museum of Slavery in Amsterdam, Talked of her Father’s Death, and How Returning to Suriname to Attend the Traditional Burial Rituals Helped her Discover and Re Connect with Aspects of her Surinamese Roots. Here is an Abridged Section of her Interview.

Read the Interview with Peggy Brandon

So I had Missed the First Tradition, Which is You Stay and There’s A Wake in the House of the Person Who Died. 

So I Went to the Funeral and They Said, “Your Sisters Are In There.” “Sisters? I did Not Know I had Any.” Which is Again One of Those Typical Situations Where We have Siblings We do Not Know. These were Younger than I am. They were Born After my Parents Separated. So I Got to Meet Them. It was Very Warm. 

I think for me the Most Significant Moment of this Funeral was There were All These People, All These Family Members that I did Not Know. And Then his Sisters, They stood Around the Grave, around the Coffin, and they Started to Sing A Song. I Looked It Up Later and There’s These Songs that are Related to These Ceremonies when People Die in Suriname, the Dede Osu

This one is called “I Had A Brother in Arms” and They Sing It in Their High Pitched Voices and I can Still Recall the Sound of them Singing, “I had A brother in Arms, I had A Brother and he Died. He Meant Everything to Me.” At that Moment I did Not Know This was A Known Song. It’s an Old Song, but I Thought They were Singing it Only for him. It Just Came So Close to These Feelings, these Women who were Almost Wailing, Who were Singing about their Brother Who was No Longer There. It’s the Strongest Memory I Have of that Moment. All These People I did Not Know who were Family and Friends and Relatives and These Sisters, My Aunts, Singing for their Brother. I Still Choke Up, This was A Very Strong Memory for Me.”

And Then on the Eighth day, Aiti Dei , Which is Another Specific Thing we do, We went to his House, A House I’d Never Been. I saw his Clothes, which I Sort of Remembered from my Childhood. He was Looking Really Nice, Wearing Designer Clothes in the 80’s and 90‘s. And We Sat There and There was A Guitar. He Used to Play Music Apparently. One of My Cousins took the Guitar and They Started Singing Songs. Then the Stories Came Up, When he and my Mother were in Love and the Things he Would Do. You Know, Stories of Tens of Tens of Years Before. This was the First Time I Heard these Stories. So in that Sense, Coming Together on the Eighth Day and Talking and Laughing and Making Jokes is Also A Way of Relieving. In the Surinamese Ceremonies about Death, There’s A Lot about Being Joyful, Thinking about the Joyous Things. It’s Also because you do Not Want the Spirits to Stay. The Spirits Need to Go, they Need to Fly Away, and the Moment you Cry A Lot, and if you’re Sad, the Spirits Feel, they Have to Comfort You. Then They can Turn into A Bad Spirit, into A Sour Spirit. 

So A Lot of the Surinamese are Around Being Joyous, Laughing, Remembering Funny Things. That’s Also Why with the Bearers, if they Walk Around with the Casket, They Make these Side Steps, because They do Not Want the Spirits to Follow Them, but Also There has to Be Joy Around. And Then There’s Another Ceremony, the Ceremony after Six Weeks, Siksi Wiki

And Again, We Came Together in this House and Things were Given to People. “Do you Want A Suit?” I took A Little Jacket. My Cousin took A Guitar. And Again, You make Fun, you Eat Things and Come Together, Talking and Laughing. It’s the Best Thing I Think You can Do. So in the End, I Gained Two Sisters and I Gained A Song and I Gained A Whole Family.

Here Quinsy Continues his Conversation with Julianknxx talking about the Practice of Strict Labeling, Categorizing and Defining in Archives Being One of Violence in Relation to Black Peoples. He Speaks on Thinking beyond this Practice toward A More Tender Form of Remembering, as has Been Done with The Tree That Saw Everything.

Perhaps the Tenderness that Quinsy Gario Wished for Us to Remember can Be Found in the Informalities of our Rituals, in the Way we Live and Evolve with Each Other and in the Spaces we Find Ourselves. In this Way, A Convenience Store becomes an Archive, A Tree A Memorial, A Wake A Reconnection and with Enough Time A Community can Make A Home. It’s What Draws Julianknxx to the Chorus as A Motif that Expresses Communion, Ritual and Even Transformation. So, How do we Ensure A Space and A Future for Our Communities and Informalities, in Cities Such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Countless Others? Unruly Tenderness.

The Tree That Saw Everything is A Form of Memorial that Circumvents Official Narratives, Structures and Control. I Found this Same Spirit of Unruly Tenderness Grounded in Cultural Connections When I Listened to Julianknxx’s Conversation with Rotterdam Based Niteshop Founder, Designer and Hip Hop Futurist, Malique Mohamud. In Talking about the Origins of The Niteshop, A Convenience Store in Rotterdam that Serves as A Living Archive for Contemporary Urban Diasporic Culture, Mohamud sSpeaks about of Wanting to Create an Institution Built Up Out of What We call Home.

I was Fascinated with s, Mom and Pop Stores, Cash and Carries, et Cetera, et Cetera. In this Post Colonial Urban Context Where All these Different Ethnicities live in the same neighborhoods, that reality is reflected on the shelves of these types of shops. You can have couscous, bulgur, basmati, fufu, garri on the same shelf.”

As with Any Convenience Store, The Niteshop’s Shelves are Lined with Products. But They’re Not Only Products that are Meaningful to Those Who Inhabit the Diaspora, They’re Also Art Objects that have Been Inspired by the Original Products they Take After, then “Re Mixed” as Mohamud Explains to Address the New Significance they have in Their Current Contemporary Contexts. He Asked People in the Community to Put Forth Products They Grew Up with. Take the Sugar Loaf as an Example.

This, A Sugar Loaf, is Used to Sweeten Tea and All that, but It’s [also] Used at Two Specific Moments in Life. That’s When you Ask the Hand of Your Girl in Marriage, or When Someone has Passed and You Visit the Family for Condolences. The First Generation Imported these Objects Out of Sheer Necessity, as in “We need to Continue Life as we Live Back Home”, and There’s Always A Few Hustlers in the Community that Think “We can Make that Happen.” Then the Object Transforms in the Diaspora, because It’s Not Just that Ritual, it’s Part of Home, Back Home that You Bring with You. This Object Also Transforms through the Generations. What it Means to the First Generation is Not What it Means to the Second Generation, and it is Not What it Means to the Third Generation. So What Happens? What We Try to Do is Position this Object Also as an Object that Addresses Some Post Colonial Stress and Mourning that is Attached to Migration.”

wepresent.wetransfer.com, Sep 13, 2023


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