THE JUMBEE SUGAR CANE AND CUTTY WREN


FILM and PHOTOGRAPHY for The Jumbee Sugar Cane and Cutty Wren. The performance consists of folksongs, poems, and repeated chants and utterances, which instrumentalise folkloric and post-colonial imagery, engendering a revolutionary-gnostic state in the audience. The connection created between the performers by voice and by eye contact, together with the repetition of words arranged according to traditional metres of English and Guyanese oral culture are intended to enact a sigilistic deconstruction of the imperial power of the work’s architectural setting.

The symbol of the Cutty Wren is used as well as that of the Jumbee spirits from Guyanese folklore. Jumbee are characters who have often been repositories for and supernatural personifications of mass-psychological colonial trauma. Both sets of figures are ritually slain, sigilising for the death of imperial power. As well as the English song of ‘The Cutty Wren’ (which folklorist A. L. Lloyd posits as a ritualistic, totemic song of King-killing, which took on revolutionary meaning at the time of the Peasants Revolt) The performance also contains the Guyanese folk song, ‘Over Canje Water’. This song, collected by the great but often overlooked Guyanese folklorist, Wordsworth McAndrew, is traditionally believed to be the song of a slave who escaped his plantation by swimming to safety over the perilously wide Canje river. He sang this song to his enslaved comrades from the opposite bank, unencumbered by chains.




Performance, filmed and edited by Brad Gilbert Duration: approx. 18 minutes Performers: Daniel S. Evans, Mataio Austin Dean, and Nick Granata, all members of Shovel Dance Collective.