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A black and white photograph of a black man lying down with a hand on his bare chest and a hand palm up placed on the pillow beside his head.

Black Audio Film Collective

Twilight City

The Douglas Hyde is delighted to present the second of the screenings of Art from the African Diaspora as part of Alice Rekab’s multi-platform project FAMILY LINES, Black Audio Film Collective’s film Twilight City (1989). This seminal film uses a fictional letter from a woman to her mother considering a return to London, to create a framework for historians, activists, and journalists to elaborate their complex relationships to the city, personal memories and historical events. It is a powerful meditation on Lon­don, on being black, on Thatcherism, on exile and on abandonment.

Considering the legacy of Twilight City, Alice Rekab has written a short text to accompany this film. Love me and Don’t Forget me explores the film’s resonance within the artist’s own experience of living in London as a mixed-race Irish migrant and their continued relationship with the emotional and physical geography of the city.

Love me and Don’t Forget me

There is no Sierra Leone High Commission in Dublin.

Coming back to London after so long was a kind of reckoning with memory and geography and time. I had been trapped in a slow time – inconsistent with other times, out of joint with peers – for every year I was away I only healed a week, for every month spent moving in another world a day passed. The hurt got further away and would seem gone only to arrest me touching down again – while taking a train or turning a particular corner. Half memory, half regret. The dream life of a migrant starting out. Building a life. And how the worlds inside and out conspired to stop me in my tracks.

As I walked along the curve of The Oval I remembered how I used to cry all the way home. 

How I’d call my dad and just cry. London you were never habitable but I lived in you for 7 years.

You offered me my first experience of really not being special, of people like me being everywhere, a respite from the isolation of exception that structured and coded the way I grew up and moved in public space in Dublin. I was no longer the only one with a Black dad and I was not the only one with an Irish mum either.

I remember telling my dad I heard Krio on the bus to Peckham, that they sold palm oil and cassava in the corner shop that you could buy ‘pepe’ anywhere.

The walk back there is full of sorrow and is hard to navigate. There is a broken platform leading to the door and a stairway that all the iron work has nearly rotted out of.

You told me as we walked through town that in London the ironworks were all smelted into bullets in the war.

War is part of the landscape, the warrior tomb, the ironless gates, now just standing leaning, pieces of stone. I reached for balance, having leant in that direction for so long, it was something I felt missing from my structure, it was something I was trying to replace. A sea mineral, a shell, a home, loving food, a place to go.

I no longer get to pass the threshold. It’s engraved with spirals and symbols, figures I’m not sure of. I can run my hand along the outside but never understand.

And I still think about coming back to you, a dream of starting over, of you/me somehow being changed.

When I’m underground I can feel the places above me, places that have now been levelled. My old London is razed to the ground, there is a 50,000 square meter hole there now, full of machinery and pools of rain. 

Moving at night along pathways I used to follow like an animal across an open field, worn tracks, not in grass but inside me. Habits. Furrows of grief and furrows of learning- one foot in front of the other for days and days. But when I look into your face you do not recognise me. 

Love me and don’t forget me – as if love could guard against forgetting. 

 

Alice Rekab, November 2021

About Twilight City
About the Artists
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