Souvid Datta directs a poignant, emotional promo for Messengers. For brothers Soumik and Souvid Datta, life was affected profoundly by lockdown. Like many of their peers, work immediately dried up and suddenly Soumik and Souvid were tested by the fragility of their mental health. This all took place under the backdrop of the George Floyd murder, the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement and a new and mainstream conversation about race and identity.Journeying into London’s British Museum for the first chapter in Datta's Silent Spaces series - which breaks the silence of iconic cultural spaces, out of action due to Covid - the performance features rising soul singer Amahla, saxophonist Yasmin Ogilvie and star dancer-choreographers Monique Jonas and Ihsaan de Banya sharing the space.The video production was a painful experience for the brothers, with director Souvid asking himself why the injustice of unequal power relations between the UK and its colonial subjects, in the museum, had been celebrated for so long. Yet the staff welcomed and supported these debates, making it overwhelmingly an exercise of empowerment and self-emancipation.Shot in a naturalistic yet elevated way, the video celebrates the artistry of every performer on screen, and the amalgamation of different skills and a shared confidence creates a powerful and palpable sense of creativity. The pivotal spoken-word section, written and performed by Soumik was filmed beside the bust of museum founder and slave owner, Sir Hans Sloane. Soumik’s piece addresses the burden of forgiveness, the guilt of complicity, the mental health cost of racism and the DNA pain of the wider immigrant experience.Powerful and important work. View the trailer for the Silent Spaces series here.
Rob Ulitski - 28th Apr 2021