Skip to content
A black and white photograph with a man on the left, a woman in the centre and another woman on the right. All figures are looking into the camera.

Martina Attille

Dreaming Rivers

Dreaming Rivers (1988) is a film written and directed by Martina Attille for Sankofa Film & Video. In this allegorical work, actor Corinne Skinner Carter performs the role of Ms T, a black Caribbean woman in transition. Her children Daughter (Angela Wynter), Sister (Nimmy March) and Sonny (Roderick Hart) sit at her bedside and attend to the unspoken intimacies of history and transnational belonging.

Considering the legacy of Dreaming Rivers Alice Rekab has written a short text to accompany this film. Sometimes our dreams depend on what is not available explores the film’s influence and resonance within the artist’s own experience of intergenerational migration and its significance within the FAMILY LINES PROJECT.

 

Sometimes our dreams depend on what is not available

Dreaming Rivers was released by Sankofa Films in 1988 when I was one year old. (I am the white passing child of a mixed marriage born in a very white space.) The Dublin of late the 1980’s and early 1990’s was a monoculture and I was the only one I knew with a Black dad and a Black grandmother.

I learned our story by heart. I carried a photo, who we were and where we came from. I taught people how to say our surname. These were fragments of lives remembered, and retold, woven together to make some kind of sense to anyone who asked the question “where are you from?”

Because of my light skin tone, people questioned if I was my father’s child. (Unreliable, suspicious, unlikely.) I lived twenty nine years of a life before I saw anyone who was, and who looked, like me on screen.

In Dreaming Rivers I saw for the first time a family that looked like mine, tonally and emotionally. (I didn’t know there were grandmothers like mine out there in bedrooms and in grief just like mine, the shared spaces of the African Diaspora.) This was underscored all the more by the variation in our geographical placement, Attille’s vision of a Caribbean maternal space, and mine that of a Sierra Leonean.

The resonance of the Atlantic passage Dreaming Rivers lays over and enmeshes with my histories and memories and into my work speaking to the loneliness of Black women in mixed marriages far from home. Telling me about the cold, the isolation and the physical dependence.

Martina Attille’s Dreaming Rivers inaugurates the FAMILY LINES project through its representation of intergenerational migrant experience, its veneration of domestic space, and the personal, syncretic relationship between the maternal and the objects of devotion in her home. The few things she has power over. I often consider my grandmother’s experiences of powerlessness in relation to her husband and her children, how she negotiated a city/country/location/new place and found her space of sanctuary in her bedroom, during the time she spent here in Dublin from the mid 1960’s to 2014 when she died.

Presenting Dreaming Rivers at the start of the FAMILY LINES project is a way to share/stating/making clear my artistic heritage. It pays respect to the work of Martina Attille and asks what this film could do and mean for another generation of African descent living in Ireland today.

Alice Rekab, September 2021

About the Artist
Credits

Current Events

Alice Rekab & Éireann and I
Exhibition Opening

Join us for the opening of our forthcoming exhibitions by artist Alice Rekab  alongside Éireann and I, an archive of Black life for black migrants in Ireland, on Thursday 30 June, 6 – 8pm. The Douglas Hyde is delighted to present a newly commissioned solo exhibition by artist Alice Rekab. Through a multidisciplinary practice of film, […]

Upcoming Events

Alice Rekab
Mythlantic Family/Clann Miotlantach

As part of our Culture Night 2022 programme, Alice Rekab will present a reading of their text Mythlantic Family/Clann Miotlantach. This reading will take place within the gallery activating new perspectives on the work in the exhibition. Booking required. Please complete the booking form from the link in this section.    

Éireann and I
Race, place and belonging: food and heritage

In this workshop, facilitated by Éireann and I, we invite you to share and celebrate your cultural food practices. Our food practices can be a ritual, an act of celebration, and a way to document our family histories. Participants will prepare and bring a dish and a corresponding food story. Using various artistic mediums we […]

Alice Rekab & Éireann and I
Exhibition Opening

Join us for the opening of our forthcoming exhibitions by artist Alice Rekab  alongside Éireann and I, an archive of Black life for black migrants in Ireland, on Thursday 30 June, 6 – 8pm. The Douglas Hyde is delighted to present a newly commissioned solo exhibition by artist Alice Rekab. Through a multidisciplinary practice of film, […]

Diana Bamimeke
Writer Reponse

As part of our Response Series The Douglas Hyde is delighted to announce a Writer’s Response where Curator and Writer Diana Bamimeke will respond to the work of Éireann and I and their current exhibition in Gallery 2 as part of The Artist’s Eye programme.  

Alice Rekab
In conversation with Georgina Jackson

We are delighted to announce an In Conversation event where artist Alice Rekab will be joined in conversation by Georgina Jackson, Director at The Douglas Hyde, to discuss the many aspects of Rekab’s FAMILY LINES Project. The conversation will take place on Friday 23 September, 7pm, as part of our Culture Night 2022 Programme at […]

Rema Hamid
FAMILY LINES Tour

In this tour, community organiser and poet Rema Hamid will explore the work of Alice Rekab within exhibition Family Lines. Booking required. Please complete the booking form from the link in this section.

Rachel Heavy
Student Forum Tour: Family Lines

In this tour, artist and Student Forum Member Rachel Heavy will explore the multiple themes addressed by Alice Rekab in their exhibition Family Lines.  Booking required. Please complete the booking form from the link in this section.

Diana Bamimeke
FAMILY LINES Tour

In this tour, Curator and Writer Diana Bamimeke will explore the work of Alice Rekab within exhibition Family Lines. Booking required. Please complete the booking form from the link in this section.

Cairo Clarke
Writer Reponse

As part of our Response Series The Douglas Hyde is delighted to announce a Writer’s Response where Curator and Writer Cairo Clarke will respond to the work of Alice Rekab and their current exhibition Family Lines.  

Dr. Fernando Sánchez-Migallón Cano
Curator's Tour | The Archive in Contemporary Art

In this tour, our Learning and Engagement Curator, Dr. Fernando Sánchez-Migallón Cano will unfold the notion of ‘the archive’ within Alice Rekab’s exhibition Family Lines. The field of contemporary art is increasingly being enriched by the work of artists whose practice is concerned with archival material. Their work have used, critiqued and re-interpreted existing archives […]

Shadi Abdel Salam
The Night of Counting the Years

The Douglas Hyde is delighted to present the tenth and final of the screenings of Art from the African Diaspora as part of Alice Rekab’s multi-platform project FAMILY LINES. Aiming to platform the voices of Black artists and artists of colour and to represent intergenerational legacies of self-representation in the production of film, writing and visual […]

Art & Ideas

Artists present us with new perspectives on the world we live in. Explore the exciting ideas behind our programmes, hear more from the artists we work with and discover new ways of engaging with art.

Art & Ideas into your inbox