Jenn Nkiru’s personal and evocative exploration of blackness

How I first came across Jenn Nkiru’s Rebirth is Necessary is still a bit hazy. It could have been on an intense Instagram explore session. Or a friend may have sent it to me as I had been moaning about the need to feel inspired. What is very clear however is Nkiru’s ability to transfer the mercurial nature of real free thought into 10 minutes of film.

Nkiru’s Rebirth is a journey, albeit a quick one. You dip in and out of each montage, from the visual archives, to the bejeweled black bodies, to the eccentrically clad street dancers gyrating in reverse along Brixton Market. Jazz instruments play in the background alongside the voices of James Baldwin, Audre Lorde and footage of Kathleen Cleaver. All too familiar, all saying things that had spoken a truth to me at different points in my life.

Nkiru has created an example of how it is possible to wholly express yourself by creating a collage of varied experiences similar to your own. I felt and I heard the blackness loud and clear. It was abstract – Yes. But I wasn’t lost in trying to find a message or how to articulate each scene. It was just understood.

Moving a couple of months forward to Beyoncé and her husband’s latest visual endeavour, Apeshit. It brought a smile to my face that Nkiru happened to be behind the second unit direction of a music video that was so well thought out. We should expect nothing less of The Carters and their ability to spot young black creatives with potential. The cadence of Nkiru’s directing is noticeable in her work on the visual. So much so that clips from the music video could be fused into Rebirth and it would be a perfect fit.

The future is bright for the young director who has recently been selected as one of the curators for the Boilerrooms new film archive entitled, 4:3. So far her library consists of two films. Several Friends by Charles Burnett and Cycles by Zeinabu Davis. Both highlighting her ability to scan histories for relatable stories to the black and femme experience.

On a personal note, Nkiru is a young black Nigerian-British (Igbo too if I might add) woman from London. Much like myself and many others it was pleasant ratification that my efforts as a creative aren’t in vain. Rebirth Is Necessary as a thought train in its rawest form. Like a dream sequence, it’s almost metaphorical for bringing one’s own dreams to life. If you want to take it there and get all serendipitous.


Click to watch Rebirth is Necessary.