What it Takes to Ban’ Yuh Belly, reflections by Evelyn Amponsah

Evelyn Amponsah

(Journal post supported by Mayworks Festival for the Arts)

Anique Jordan’s ‘Ban’ yuh belly’, a series that visually grapples with the ways Black people cope with the loss of loved ones due to anti-Black, systemic violence, is a work that asks us to reject making sense of the way we deal or do not deal with such violence by challenging the linear trajectory of how people are expected to mourn.  The series, instead, asks the viewer to ‘Ban’ yuh belly’, a Caribbean expression meaning “brace yourself”.   Ban’ yuh belly – a phrase that is both a warning and a place of comfort, can be read in relation to Jordan’s work, not only as holding or bracing yourself, and therefore a sense of stillness, but  also as a verb. Do something- act… be prepared. But also, be still.  It is both the movement and the stillness that is the refusal of sense making present in this work.  How can we both be still and move – at the same time? Jordan’s work tells us we can. We can by refusing the  normalized process of  grieving that is expected of Black people. The process that is laid out for us … we are killed, it is reported in the media, it is archived (made to be in the past, moved on…repeated).   The senseless labour that is involved in this process wants Black people to grieve losses with an expectation that it will be the last, even though we know it is not. What I mean here is that the anti-Black world has not changed, it has killed, is killing and will continue to kill Black people, asking us to grieve an ongoing process is asking us to ignore that the world still kills us.   Jordan’s work asks us to interrupt this process, not waste our labour, doing the work to get over something that is not over. Instead Jordan tells us to ban’ yuh belly. Jordan asks us to refuse doing the labour of moving on, not because we don’t want to, but because we can’t until the structures that make life impossible for Black people are dismantled.  read more…

Ban’ yuh belly: Anique Jordan to Present First Solo Show at Zalucky Contemporary

May 4 - June 1 

Opening Reception: Saturday May 4, 3-6 PM 

Anique Jordan to present first solo show at Zalucky Contemporary, a featured exhibition for the 2019 CONTACT Photography Festival

  • Saturday, May 4th, 3 - 6PM Opening Reception 

Public talks co-presented with Mayworks Festival of Working People and the arts:

  • Thursday May 9, 7PM-9PM Hold: a conversation with activist Tina Garnett on the refusal of sense-making
  • Thursday May 23, 7PM-9PM Hold: a conversation with journalist Priya Ramanujam on media, youth and relationships that carry memory

Ban’ yuh belly is a series centering on the grief, anger and mental health of loved ones who are mourning those they have lost due to violence – systemic or otherwise. The works attempt to disturb the normalcy through which Black lives are violently taken and interrupted. Through a localized historical lens, Anique Jordan has created new work to contend with the survival strategies used to make sense of the senseless.

Employing a Trinidadian expression meaning to hold onto something, Jordan uses the phrase Ban’ yuh belly to visualize the ways we cope with violence. How do we make sense of this? What do we hold onto? Ban’ yuh bellyis in part inspired by Aereile Jackson, a Black woman interviewed in the film The Forgotten Space – A Film Essay Seeking to Understand the Contemporary Maritime World in Relation to the Symbolic Legacy of the Sea(2010) and discussed in scholar Christina Sharpe’s text In the Wake. In the film, Aereile Jackson is seen holding several dolls which she explains, she is holding onto because they are the only things that remind her of her children. She says, “don’t think I’m mentally ill or anything like that…I’ve lost a lot. I’m trying…I’m hurt”. 

Jordan’s practice works with the spaces between historical archive, speculative futures and what she sees every day. Her work sources pathways to understand how and where on our bodies our histories live. It is an obsession with what she calls, a haunting. Over the past four years, Jordan’s work has contended with these questions, trying make sense of the role it plays in our lives. It is a question she continues to ask of Black bodies, but more deliberately, of Black women and is the starting point to much of her work.

2020 Copyright © Anique Jordan