In Cauleen Smith’s video Egungun: Ancestor Can’t Find Me (2017), a figure shrouded in shells wanders zombielike in a lush African landscape. In Yoruban societies, egungun are costumed dancers who appear at public celebrations. Smith’s is more monstrous—an animated corpse of a slave-ship captive gone overboard during the Middle Passage that has now emerged as a haunting. Transferred from 16-mm film, the video has a grainy texture that enhances the barnacled cloth of the costume.
EGUNGUN-Ancestor Can’t Find Me. 2017. 16mm transfered to digital.
Third installment of the #shutinfilmfestval. Shot on Captiva Island. A place that felt haunted by the Calusa People who seemingly fled the island while the British and Spanish tried to pit captive African laborers (slaves) and I Indigenous people against one another. It mostly didn’t work. The film is not really about that so much as my own profound anxiety and ancestral speculations when confronted with the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy ya’ll. 💙✨🐚🌊💙