Black Is King co-creator Emmanuel Adjei directs FKA twigs video around Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus

Filmed against the backdrop of the renowned installation exploring the history of slavery, the video is a powerful comment on the Black British experience, with a cast featuring Reni Eddo-Lodge and Nicole Crentsil.

Date
28 January 2021
Reading Time
2 minutes

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FKA twigs’ latest video for Don’t Judge Me brings together prominent forces across the creative industries, from director Emmanuel Adjei – co-creator of Beyonce’s film Black Is King – to artist Kara Walker, whose renowned installation Fons Americanus serves as a profound backdrop to the video’s themes. The video is intended as a powerful comment on the experience of being Black and British today, and stars an influential cast including poet and Black Lives Matter activist Solomon OB, writer Reni Eddo-Lodge, musician and poet Benjamin Zephaniah, dancer and singer Lisa Elde, mental health advocate Nicole Crentsil and broadcaster Clara Amfo.

The video sees FKA twigs, Headie One and Fred again perform alongside the cast in regal rooms and in front of Walker’s Fons Americanus, a large-scale public sculpture that stands in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. Inspired by the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, the piece takes the form of a four-tiered fountain, but whereas the Victoria Memorial honours Queen Victoria and celebrates the British Empire, Walker’s sculpture questions narratives of power and explores the history of the slave trade and colonisation in the form of a monument. Walker says in a film about her installation that Fons Americanus is an “allegory of the Black Atlantic and really all global waters which disastrously connect Africa to America, Europe and economic prosperity”.

The video aims to portray the cast’s shared struggle against an invisible oppressor, propagated by cultural, systemic and structural biases. Adjei says in a statement about the themes of the film: “From someone’s appearance, we are unable to judge whether a person discriminates over colour, sex, religion, or gender. The oppressors within the people surrounding us most often remain invisible until their abuse against others is revealed. This is one of the reasons why, for generations, discrimination is so hard to fight. Who must the victim fight against if it can’t identify the perpetrator?”

Twigs wrote on Twitter that the project was “very personal and special to me” and that it was “an honour to shoot with Kara Walker’s fountain exploring the interconnection of Black history between Africa, America and Europe”. The video is supported by fashion platform Farfetch and, as such, twigs also curated an edit of Black designers clothing to wear in the video by the likes of Martine Rose and Virgil Abloh’s Off-White.

GalleryEmmanuel Adjei and FKA twigs: Don't Judge Me video (Copyright © FKA twigs, 2021)

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Emmanuel Adjei and FKA twigs: Don't Judge Me video (Copyright © FKA twigs, 2021)

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, now overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on jb@itsnicethat.com.

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