Spectral Grounds, Black Experimental Film is a gathering of moving images by Black women and nonbinary filmmakers across generations, from the dispersed territories of the Black diaspora—continental and otherwise.
As a programme, Spectral Grounds features works that trade illusory and often violent certainties for unwieldy terrains and troubled waters. They practice experimentation at the level of film, but also, necessarily, at the level of existence, as part of an endless repertoire and arsenal of Black survival. Inhabiting spectral grounds means making grounding a verb rather than a name. Here, grounding is a quest for provisional anchors and reprieves, rather than for permanence or mastery.
The screening programme is divided in four sections: “Wayward Labours”, “Black Speculatives”, “Errantries” and “Nervous Conditions.” Each theme responds to how Labour, History, Territory and the Mind—four core rubrics of Western metaphysics—legitimate existence in an antiblack world. They articulate modes of existence untethered from the ability to labour in recognizable ways, have legible records and histories, hold territory and conform to standards of rational thinking. To be perpetually deprived of the solidity of these grounds, but in excess of spiritual resources from which to unsettle and contest such order of things, is the space we name “spectral grounds”. This is a space of injury but also a space from which to conjure liberatory practices by looking at the camera not for recognition, but to confront and impose one’s looking onto and against it.
Culture Art Society (CAS) and Monangambee curate exhibitions, workshops, and film screenings focused on artists of African descent in Nigeria, Denmark and the UK. Both our platforms embrace a vision of Black arts as necessarily deconfined from cultural institutions, museums, galleries and even enclosed cinemas. This one-week online programme available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, thus responds to this imperative, as well as the context of the Covid-19 pandemic which saw an intensified flourishing of cinematic online programmes. With a return to physical activities for both our platforms, we also want to reaffirm a commitment to the larger publics the virtual opens to.
Culture Art Society (CAS) founded in 2013 is an interdisciplinary curatorial platform. CAS makes curatorial interventions within the public and institutional realm foregrounding archival research, Black radical thought, and interdisciplinary frameworks of African/diasporic artists with focus on lens-based practices. CAS has curated projects ranging from exhibitions, film programmes, and educational activities nationally and internationally with partners such as The Showroom, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Serpentine Galleries, Kunsthall Trondheim, amongst others.
Monangambee (formerly Is That Jazz?) is a nomadic panafrican microcinema in Lagos founded in 2016. Our hybrid screenings, physical and online, engage Black continental and diasporic filmmakers, as well as Third Cinema, and radical cinematic movements stemming from the Global South. Run by a collective, Monangambee screens in a variety of locations in Lagos and Ibadan, such as the iconic Jazzhole bookstore, the hFACTOR collective spaces, or the New Culture Studio in the amphitheater designed by architect Demas Nwoko.
With thanks to the many brilliant collaborators that made this program possible, in particular our web designer Uzoma Orji (uzoma.studio), our editor Yasmine Espert and translators & close-caption editors Lígia Xavier and Isabel Sevilla. This program was made possible by funding from the British Council.
(c) Culture Art Society x Monangambee 2022