This video clip documents the video installation titled 'omi ebora (ode to Zong!)' produced in 2014. The clip shows a still of a viewer looking down on the one channel video projection followed by footage of the projection as it appeared when installed for Nuit Blanche in London, Ontario (June 2014). Five speakers with individual sound channels were placed around the exhibition space to provide an immersive experience.
In 'omi ebora' (Yoruba for “spirits of the waters”), submerged syllables and words float up from beneath the ocean’s turbulent surface while a cacophony of haunting voices… moaning, groaning, gasping, whispering… attempt to “tell the story that cannot be told yet must be told”, the story of the murder by drowning of nearly 150 slaves on the slave ship Zong in November 1781.
Directly inspired by NourbeSe Philip’s epic poem 'Zong!' (2008) and produced in collaboration with her, 'omi ebora' lifts the poet’s words off the page and immerses them in water, plucking sounds and syllables from within the poem much as the poet has plucked them from the legal case documenting the massacre of slaves on board this ill-fated ship. After straying off course on a voyage from Africa to Jamaica, the ship’s captain had taken the decision to throw some slaves overboard when the ship’s water reserves ran low. Two days later when the rain came, he continued to order their murder with a view to later collecting insurance monies for the loss of his cargo. In the video, these silenced souls struggle for speech, their garbled voices muddying the waters of history’s infinite tomb.