Session Twelve: No Dance, No Palaver – Onyeka Igwe

Date: Wednesday 3 April
Time: 18:30-20:30
Venue: Birkbeck Cinema


In this session, artist and filmmaker Onyeka Igwe presents a trio of works called No Dance, No Palaver. The trilogy emerges from research into the Aba Women’s War of 1929. This anti-colonial uprising serves as a starting point from which to explore archival images documenting Britain’s colonial history. Accompanying the screening, Onyeka will deliver a lecture exploring the role of the essay film as an act of anti-colonialism.

Following the screening and talk, Onyeka will be in conversation with Dr. Clive James Nwonka.

Film details:

Specialised Technique, Onyeka Igwe, UK, 2018, digital, 6:16 min.

William Sellers and the Colonial Film Unit developed a framework for colonial cinema, which included slow edits, no camera tricks and minimal camera movement. Hundreds of films were created in accordance with this set of rules. In an effort to recuperate black dance from this colonial project, Specialised Technique attempts to transform this material from studied spectacle to livingness.

Her Name in My Mouth, Onyeka Igwe, UK, 2017, digital, 6:02 min.

The film revisions the Aba Women’s War, the first major anti-colonial uprisings in Nigeria, using embodiment, gesture and the archive. The film is structured around the repurposing of archival films from the British propaganda arm, cut against a gestural evocation of the women’s testimonies.

Sitting on a Man, Onyeka Igwe, UK, 2018, digital, 6:42 min.

Traditionally, women in Igbo-speaking parts of Nigeria, came together to protest against the behaviour of men by sitting on them, or making war on them, adorning themselves with palm fronds, dancing and singing protest songs outside the man in question’s home. This practice became infamous due to its prominence as a tactic in the Aba Women’s War, the all-women protest against colonial rule in 1929. Two contemporary dancers reimagine the practice, drawing on both archival research and their own experiences.

About Onyeka Igwe:

Onyeka Igwe is an artist filmmaker, programmer and researcher. She was born in London, where she is based.

In her non-fiction video work, Onyeka uses dance, voice, archive and text to expose a multiplicity of narratives. The work explores the physical body and geographical place as sites of cultural and political meaning.

Onyeka’s video works have been screened at Artists’ Film Club: Black Radical Imagination, ICA, London, 2017; Seeing the City, Guildhall Art Gallery, London, 2012; and at film festivals internationally including the London Film Festival, 2015; Rotterdam International, Netherlands, 2017; Edinburgh Artist Moving Image, 2016 and the Hamburg International Short Film Festival, Germany, 2016.
Recent solo projects include a collaborative exhibition with Aliya Pabani, Corrections, Trinity Square Video, Toronto, Canada, 2018.

Recent group projects include: there’s something in the conversation that is more interesting than the finality of (a title), The Showroom, London, UK, 2018; World Cup!, articule, Montreal, Canada, 2018; Arguments, Cordova, Vienna, Austria, 2017; Multiplex, Nuit Blanche, Toronto, Canada, 2016; and In the Shadow of the Rainbow, Sunday Drive Art Projects, Warkworth, Canada 2015.

About Dr Clive James Nwonka:

Dr Clive James Nwonka is an LSE Fellow in Film Studies in the Department of Sociology. His work explores issues of realism, race, class, architecture and representation in British and American cinema, and diversity policy in the British film and TV industries. Nwonka convenes the course White Screens/Black Images: The Sociology of Black Cinema on the MSc Culture and Society. His book The Aesthetics of British Urban Cinema is to be published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2020.