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Josèfa Ntjam When The Moon Dreamed of the Ocean 2022 Installation view at FACT Liverpool Photo by Rob Battersby

Installation environment and video (18 minutes)

Josèfa Ntjam is an artist, performer and writer whose practice combines sculpture, photomontage, film and sound. Her use of language, combining poetry with history and science, deconstructs common discourses on origin, identity and race.

Josèfa’s work reexamines history in the aftermath of colonialism and the Transatlantic slave trade. It references counter-cultural movements and non-Western histories that symbolise ideas of resistance, transformation and freedom. In her new film Dislocation (2022) and the photomontage works framing it, she brings together a range of cultural references: the African water spirit Mami Wata, a figure of resistance and connection to their origins for those enslaved by the Transatlantic trade; the galactic mythic future of jazz composer Sun Ra; and the speculative underwater civilisations popularised by Detroit techno duo Drexcyia. Josèfa presents these works within a watery, underground cave filled with alien jellyfish, plankton and mushrooms. These natural life forms survive by communicating through systems and signals that they create amongst themselves: fungi form networks in the dense darkness of undergrowth, and plankton collectively adapt over generations in response to environmental factors such as changing ocean currents. These lifeforms become metaphoric carriers of memories that are too heavy for any single being to bear, but whose weight can be shared amongst the collective. These stories disperse with their hosts, and fragment with time and distance, growing into new forms and possibilities.

By drawing parallels between natural processes and human experience, Josèfa offers new ways of navigating through the flows of the past: ultimately demonstrating how spaces of solidarity, care and revolution can thrive in even the most inhospitable conditions.

Commissioned by FACT Liverpool with support from Fluxus Art Projects. Courtesy of the artist and Nicoletti, London.