Now Pretend

We’re delighted to present the second event of The Work We Share programme in partnership with Pavilion. This one-off screening presents the newly digitised Now Pretend (1991) by L.Franklin Gilliam, together with Fatima’s Letter by Alia Syed, and a new response commission by Onyeka Igwe. 

In response to Now Pretend, Onyeka Igwe will present a short essay and soundscape that reflect on the changing meanings of blackness in a single lifetime. 



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Now Pretend, L.Franklin Gilliam (USA, 1991, 10 mins)

Now Pretend is an experimental investigation into the use of race as an arbitrary signifier. Drawing upon language, personal memories and the 1959 text, Black Like Me, it deals with Lacan’s “mirror stage” theory of self perception and the movement from object to subject.

L.Franklin Gilliam (they/them) believes that, in a broken world, the vision and creativity of artists are critical to transformative systems change. Gilliam’s creative practice is research-based and multidisciplinary. It has taken the form of film/video art, installation, games, and illustrated lectures. Gilliam’s projects explore the interplay between obsolete technology formats and the faulty transmission of historical knowledge and difference. Their projects have been screened and presented at the 1997 Whitney Biennial, the New Museum, Oberhausen Short Film Festival, and featured in Anäis Duplan’s BLACKSPACE: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture (2020). Gilliam’s role-playing game, Lesberation, premiered at New York University Game Center’s No Quarter exhibition in 2015.

Onyeka Igwe is an artist and researcher working between cinema and installation, born and based in London, UK. Through her work, Onyeka is animated by the question — how do we live together? — with particular interest in the ways the sensorial, spatial and non-canonical ways of knowing can provide answers to this question. She uses embodiment, archives, narration and text to create structural ‘figure-of-eights’, a form that exposes a multiplicity of narratives. Onyeka is part of B.O.S.S., a sound system collective that brings together a community of queer, trans and non binary people of colour involved in art, sound and radical activism. Her works have been shown in the UK and internationally. She was awarded the New Cinema Award at Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival 2019 and the 2020 Arts Foundation Fellowship Award for Experimental Film.


This event is presented in partnership with Pavilion and Hyde Park Picture House, and supported by Arts Council England. It forms part of a new Cinenova programme titled The Work We Share – a programme of 10 newly digitised films from the Cinenova collection, captioned by Collective Text alongside 10 new artist response commissions, touring the UK throughout 2021-22. Full programme announcement coming soon!