Date of Submission
Film and Electronic Arts
Project Advisor 1
Project Advisor 2
What does it mean to begin in and belong to an island, where no one begins or belongs? What does it mean, when suddenly you experience a rupture (its agile abilities to pierce and shatter catalysed by it being an echo of smaller and previous ruptures), and your sense of self (predicated on fragmented geography/ a hobbled together mosaic of opposing colloquialisms) is broken, bent, light under water? What about when we see that everything, absolutely everything, is revolving in a motion of constant push and pull? No wonder we feel split, spread, torn. For example, what could possibly be pure emotion, that which is not a mix of all emotions (particularly those that are "opposite")? Love (and all capitalised emotions) generate their magnificence from the vibration of terror.
I was not born in the isle of St. Vincent, but in England. We adopted the island in 1992 when I was two years old. Twenty-one years later we have been fully expelled. Our house has been broken into too many times, our lives have been threatened, every time we try to go back something happens and we have to leave again. Pulled by exquisite beauty, pushed by intolerable violence, bearing the whispers "what if we'd been home when they broke in? what if we'd entered the growing ranks of those murdered during burglary?" These have been real and actual concerns for the past eight years.
Prior to January 2013 I had planned to make my Senior Project Film a portrait piece about one man, (it is important to know that he is an old man), Mr. Guy. I saw him as a channel through which I could start asking questions about why the island is so violent. Since a young age I examined my blood, and saw that it was all equally red. Since a young age I've examined my blood, and have seen that it is two different reds, a crackling spark of vibrant red, that of the British, and a red of dull thuds and hammerings, the deeper, quieter, earthen red of the Caribbean peoples.
Colonialism, I honed in on it, and prefixes like "post" and "pre". This whole mess is because of these, and there are collective psychological scars (I posited to whoever would listen) from the trauma of colonialism, that hadn't been dealt with. That island needs a good therapist, but first is to acknowledge that we are sick.
Mr. Guy worked for many of the British plantation owners. His knowledge about the colonial period is extensive, and his character and charisma are up lifting. Some lessons, to be learned here, to be shared, to be sprinkled across the island in electric image, to smile meekly up from the soil, finally, some seed in which we can be hopeful?
In January 2013, when I was in St. Vincent to make the film about Mr. Guy, my home was broken into, and my laptop and my hard drives were stolen containing all of my film work. Our home has been burgled countless times. I cannot explain (but must try because this is central, pivotal, it is, in some respects, everything) the experience of growing up in a home that was constantly being broken into. Having to leave the house every summer for months at a time because our lives had been threatened. Again, in the jeep with as much as we could carry, thinking "where shall we go?" The cat, Whiskers Roudette, scratching at my lap. At the end of every school day praying that no one had come in, trashed the place, stolen things. Shock stab jab and fuck up and my mothers face crumpling up again and again, my young heart sinking and sinking, all these things drifting apart and changing colour, my own mouth open and silent, a funny empty floating. The familiar was suddenly clouded, shrouded in a deadness, being irked away inch by inch, wrested out of my hands and reformed far away, where it could be seen but never touched, tasted or believed in again, a sad and sickly shadow of its former self. Everything wept as it lay, removed and bathed in the lilac light of nostalgia and loss. And there I was within it. There were my things, my pets, my family, cyclically struck down with a maddening purple insomnia, pock marked and struggling for air.
There are few in St. Vincent that have not had brushes with the violence of the island. Even fewer are those who have experienced it only once or twice. This is the reality of living in post-colonial St. Vincent at the inception of the 21st century. This film, Hoghole, was born out of the perception of loss, absence, lack, and the apparition of space in the shape of familiar material objects. This seems appropriate, in fact, for an island of displaced people whose culture has been born from a sentiment of loss and absence of place.
After the robbery in January, the camera became a way for me to reclaim my home, to reorient myself within this landscape, and still I am trying, to find without seeking, the effervescent moment of immaterial insight derived from this loss. Thus the project became an emotional impulsive, a jabbering response, to my home land and what has happened to me and my family. As the film has progressed, I've realised that it has been so challenging because it is the major question which is central to my sense of self and belonging. All other questions are branches leaving this trunk.
In a way I am grateful for the robbery. Loosing all that work has taught me invaluable lessons, has thickened my skin. It meant that I wasted no time shimmying around the question. The robbery necessitated that I begin attacking, addressing my pain, facing myself, sooner rather than later, laid bare, empty handed, bringing and taking nothing. Just, and down toward surrender, moving (out of house out of country out of and into the possibilities of these physical materials) in order to stay alive, "to keep things whole".
I am fully aware, perhaps more than anything, that this is a project I am going to continue. These ten collaged minutes of impressions, sensations, facts, and sentiments, are terribly important, more than I even understand. It is important in that it is the first launching into, the first questioning, the VERY first articulation of this mad sadness that has taken up residence in that spot, you know the spot, we all have that spot, the one reserved for the widest types of wounds. Where the only light that can reach is an energy generated while making, in the friction of sound and image, a split beam drizzling slight grazes of clarity, the chance, only the chance, from which we can hope for illumination.
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Roudette, Aiko Maya, "Hoghole" (2013). Senior Projects Spring 2013. 192.
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