Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, l’ll rise.

Maya Angelou

For a long time I have wanted to express myself in different forms and with different tools. This is my first documentary film project, one of my artistic and/or cultural endeavors.

For me, the personal reason behind this project is to be an African woman in dialogue with other African women. For the most part, we are familiar with disregard, humiliation, imposed silence and neglect. We also know what it means to live with multiple vulnerabilities : to be women in poor countries in societies in which equal access to heathcare, education and expression are only theoretical, and in which artistic and cultural practices do not exist within the collective unconscious, as distinct contributions to identity construction and collective history. Indeed, as women, we do not belong to ourselves. Our bodies do not belong to us. They belong to a phallocentric, patriarcal system that uses them as it wishes. For work, for the perpetuation of a family line, or as an object of male desire. My journey
has been guided by my exploration of my woman’s body under these conditions.

My physical encounter with the West was a shock on a number of counts, as I was without my cultural landmarks, of which I had been previously unawares. The representation that I had of myself in my female body was disrupted, all the more accutely for the fact that it was associated with the lowest level on the social ladder.

I learned, at my expense, that “the black body,” and black women in particular, occupy a place on the margins of the margins of Western society. I am confronted with bodies that are often represented as disembodied, amputated, and lifeless. Or associated with the ferociousness of wild animals (panthers, tigresses, or gazelles with which we, black women, are compared). Or our bodies are refered to by emotional or physical aspects (he/ she has rhythm in her skin), all of which gives rise to perceptions and imaginaires of submission and desire that objectifize and exoticize and to which numerous fantasies are tied. Even as a cliché, black women’s bodies carry historical testiment. They retain the mark of time and events that follow one after the other.

Today my condition as a black woman with multiple identities leads me to the need to create and convey myself as I make my way through multiple norme. All the many imposed narratives, whether I willingly put up with them or not, both here and there, confront me. Thus it has become vital that I have this conversation with myself. To reiterrogate my own stories, those I have inherited, those I contruct today, those I wish to pass on, is a step that has naturally led me to need to confer with other women, some older, some younger, and my peers.

My questioning is indirect, organized around the construction and recognition of multiple, familiar identities: geographic origin, skin color, social milieu, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, etc. These issues are similar to those that concern my co-author, Frieda Ekotto. This is how our approach, which combines production, artistic creation and the archiving of our individual and collective histories, was born

Marthe Djilo Kamga