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'Living in the Wake of the Lust for Sugar', Film still, London, Sugar & Slavery Gallery, Museum of London Docklands, Image: Andy Delaney 2023


A short film made in response to the London, Sugar and Slavery gallery at the Museum of London Docklands

...and thus circling the Tree of Forgetfulness was an attempt to shed our past identities, relations and personhood

The aim was to re-examine the existing narrative of the gallery, which was created in 2007, by expanding its interpretation with an artistic perspective connected to the audience that the gallery represents. For an institution like ours, the accuracy of her [James] vision, the finesse of her thinking, are precious tools to offer a new narrative on heritage and identity - Jean-François Manicom, Senior Curator, Museum of London Docklands 

"Commissioned to research and respond to the gallery with a brief to "disrupt traditional curatorial methodologies", my starting point in creating this film was to embed my connection to the chronology of the transatlantic slave trade. I was also curious to imagine what a response to the gallery would look and sound like through the prism of the enslaved African voice, which I found missing from the entire gallery interpretation. To address this, I divided the film into two parts. The first part features a collective imagined enslaved voice asking questions and critiquing the space. The second part narrates the story of Mary Prince, the first known Black woman to relate a narrative about being enslaved in 1831."

Living in the Wake of the Lust for Sugar was commissioned by the Museum of London Docklands in February 2023. Its premiere screening was at the museum on 1 September 2023. Please note that the film does not have captions, so click here for the film transcript.


4K Video with stereo sound, Duration 07:53 mins, London, Sugar and Slavery Gallery, Museum of London Docklands, 2023

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Installion view, Liberation in Four Movements exhibition, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Canada, 2024

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Elsa James Museum of London Docklands.png

Film credits
Written, performed and narrated by Elsa James; 
Co-directed by Andy Delaney and Elsa James; Co-edited by Andy Delaney and Elsa James; Sound designed by Greg Birkumshaw; Lighting by Struan Wallace, How2Productions; Narration recorded by Graham Tobias; Camera assistant: Graham Tobias; Set assistant: Storm Thompson; Makeup: Storm Thompson and Costume: Elsa James.


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