Ancestral Wisdom is a visual arts project about searching for and creating one’s present and future self through the past. It focuses on Black and Brown diaspora individuals who are linking across time and place by invoking their migratory experiences, genealogy, cultural and traditional heritage in their present-day life.
At a time when many in the world are asking, ‘what in our world needs to change for it to be better?’, or ‘how can I not only survive or thrive, but be celebrated on this planet?’, this project focuses on the stories of those who are seeking these answers from within (who they are).
This project is an instrument calling out, like a talking drum or a town crier would, to all Black and Brown diaspora people, to acknowledge, cultivate, and pass down their heritage. This is especially pertinent in a society where the predominant culture continues to marginalise stories that do not fit what into the mainstream. For those whose way of life is outside of this normative understanding, remembering and/or creating who they are by the telling of their stories is a moral imperative.
The project contains portraits of protagonists who are applying ancestral wisdom in their everyday lives. Their stories are told through monologues narrated by themselves, in the style of wisdom being left for descendants, answering questions such as what led to these practices and how they apply them in their lives. The project itself becomes wisdom that the protagonists are leaving behind for their descendants.
This pays homage to the tradition of passing down wisdom and knowledge through oral storytelling in many Black and Brown indigenous cultures. A tradition that continues today for many valuable reasons but also because of marginalisation from mainstream media. The monologues are critical because it is time for these voices to speak loudly and strongly in their own words. Furthermore, there is a strong understanding of continuity within these indigenous practices and the monologues are also inspired by an understanding of respect for ancestors and a knowledge that everyone alive now is in preparation to become an ancestor.