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"the cleanse"

Running Time: 10:28

Directed by: Adama Delphine Fawundu

Cinematographer: Scott Brathwaite

Audio Production: Amal Buford, Howard Buford

Appropriated Music: Travis Porter – Make It Rain, Migos – Bad and Boujee, Mangue Sylla: Mendiani


Appropriated Texted by: Ntozake Shange, The Holy Bible, The Holy Quran, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Gayl Jones, Sojourner Truth, Erykah Badu

I am interested in how the Mende culture have shape shifted, transformed and evolved within the African Diaspora despite horrific societal disruptions such as colonialism and the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.

With “the cleanse” I thought about the cyclical idea of ritual as it mirrors the cycle of life.  For the Mende, beautiful hair is called kpotongo, which literally means “it is much, abundant, plentiful.”  The root, kpoto, is used to describe things in nature that can be pulled together such as fruits on a tree and rice.  The most significant thing about hair in Mende culture is that it grows, this symbolizes essence of life.  It is important to wash it regularly and nurture it with herbs and natural oils.  The maintenance of growth is essential. 

With these concepts in mind, I created my own language made up of natural elements and diaspora references as metaphors and symbols.  Like a hip-hop artist, I sampled trap music, spiritual texts, Mende harvest chants, and words from authors such as James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Erykah Badu, Alice Walker, Sojourner Truth, Audre Lorde, and Gayle Jones. These words are juxtaposed against vivid imagery of hair, water, “blood,” milk and cotton. 

“the cleanse” is about healing as a natural occurrence. 

Installation Views: Art on the Stoop Sunset Series at the Brooklyn Museum
November 2021.  
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