Rebirth is Necessary

Rebirth is Necessary

Drawing on the methods of remix and sampling culture, filmmaker Jenn Nkiru creates soulful and mind-bendingly visceral works reflecting the dynamism of Blackness.

The Grammy Award-winning artist and director’s first solo exhibition in Australia, Rebirth is Necessary, opens at Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art on May 14, and will stick around until July 9, 2022.

The exhibition is an immersive gallery presentation of Nkiru’s 2017 film Rebirth is Necessary, an exploration of the magic of Blackness in a realm where time and space are altered.

Nkiru has built a reputation as an important figure in contemporary Black cinema, exploring the full spectrum of the lived diasporic black experience through aesthetically complex films.

The British Nigerian filmmaker rose to international prominence for her work on music videos, notably as the second unit director for Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s ‘APESHIT’ music video partially filmed at the Louvre in Paris, as well as directing videos for Kamasi Washington and Neneh Cherry, among others.

Moving deftly between online and institutional contexts, she was recently selected for the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2019 Whitney Biennial and her latest piece, OUT / SIDE OF TIME, commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York opened in 2021 as part of the exhibition: Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room.

Pushed through an afro surrealist lens, Nkiru’s works are grounded in the history of Black music, the aesthetics of experimental film, international art cinema, the Black arts movement, and the rich and variegated tradition of cinemas of the Black diaspora and their distinct experimentation with the politics of form.

Blending the now, the past, and the future, Rebirth is Necessary presents a dense and rapid-fire archive of audio-visual material, which Nkiru describes as akin to a bibliography.

The film includes samples of Sun Ra, James Baldwin, Fred Moten, Steve Reich, Kathleen Cleaver, and Alice Coltrane, among many others—as well as original footage shot in South Africa and her native South London.

The exhibition is on view at the IMA from May 14 to July 9, with an opening event on Friday May 13 from 6:00–8:00 pm.

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