Bring Me To Heal
28 May 2021 - 31 May 2022
V&A Friday Late in collaboration with Forma presents the digital commission Bring Me to Heal by Amartey Golding. Shot in the empty galleries of the V&A museum, the short film draws on ancient histories, myth and craft to ponder the origins and expressions of trauma present in English culture. The piece will be available on the V&A’s YouTube and IGTV channels from 28 May 2021 and will tour to exhibition partners across the UK during 2021-22 as part of a wider body of work.
Golding often turns to his Anglo-Scottish and Ghanian ancestry by way of a Rastafarian upbringing as a point of departure from which to explore human behaviour. Through film, photography and an increasingly labour intensive process of sculpture, the artist creates removed or dreamlike spaces in which to locate characters experiencing moments of immutable change - points of no return in how they identify and act in the world.
In the narrative short film Bring Me to Heal Golding turns his attention to Britain’s complex and long standing relationship with violence. As a thought experiment he looks to reconnect with the cultures and experiences of people throughout history and consider the legacy of latent traumas in the England of now. As the title suggests, the work searches for the point at which the tide of trauma can be steered towards a process of healing and away from further embedding itself in our psyche. For this Golding takes inspiration from Dr. Joy deGruy’s Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, it’s mapping of the intergenerational cause and effect, alongside the empathetic and embodied approaches to healing of Rastafarian teachings. Bring Me to Heal builds on themes from previous works from the artist such as Chainmail 1-3 - which explored the contradictions we hold, both as individuals and within our collective history - or STASiS - which questions whether opposing forces can coexist without having to deny the potency of the other.
The film takes place throughout the V&A and centres on an elemental Being, embodying England’s past, present and future, who is found as a museum artefact and brought to life. Somewhat innocent, the Being wanders through the galleries absorbing centuries of European history as told through each object. Solomon Golding, Amartey’s brother and the first Black British male to join the Royal Ballet Company, features as the Being and long-time collaborator, Darren Gayle as the anonymous figure.
A centrepiece of the project is the Being’s ornate hand knotted exterior made of human hair that has been intricately designed by Golding in collaboration with Shepperton Wig Company and hair artist Kevin Fortune. The pattern blends references from afro hair styles to body art of the ancient Britons - with a prominent braid on the back for example that encircles an image of the Uffington White Horse. Further the use of afro hair holds a particular significance for the artist; as a cultural signifier and as something that needs to be nurtured and looked after.
Shot in slow motion, the characters move through each gallery of the museum to the elongated deep base of Wu Stallion/Don't Test with vocals from Suga Bang Bang whose ragga meets hip hop styling eventually gives way to a wailing as the Being encounters the Altarpiece of St George, the patron saint of England. Here wonder and awe turns to horror when the Being witnesses the flipside of human endeavour through the torture and eventual martyrdom of the saint. The bravado of the lyrics, “Don’t test me”, “Don’t try me”, accentuate the power and vulnerability of the Being as they, now transformed by the experience, turn and exit the museum. Reminiscent of sci-fi origin stories, as the Being looks out onto the late night streets of London, we are left wondering whether the character will look to repeat history or chart an entirely new path.
Commissioned by the V&A in collaboration with Forma Arts & Media as part of their Friday Late digital programme.
- Partners & Supporters
Amartey Golding’s Bring Me to Heal series is a Forma Arts & Media commission in collaboration with 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts and Tramway. It is further supported by Arts Council England, The Golsoncott Foundation, Henry Moore Foundation and Lighthouse as part of Re-Imagine Europe.
- Artist & Director - Amartey Golding
- DOP - Iain Ovenden | Easel Films
- Producer - Caroline Heron
- Hair Artist - Kevin Fortune
- 1st AD - Albert Sharpe
- Steadicam Op - Tom Walden
- Camera 2 Op - Drew Seymour
- Focus Puller - Jerry Pradon
- Camera Assist - Luke Everson
- Lighting - Tom Bearne
- Studio Manager - Lara Monro
- Assistant Stylist - Shannon Sheehan
- Production Assistant - Carolina Ongaro
- Editor - Joseph Carnaby
- Colourist - Nevan Carey
- Darren Gayle
- Solomon Golding
Amartey Golding, Bring Me to Heal (2021), video still. Image courtesy the artist.