Relic Traveller is a large-scale multidisciplinary project by British-Ghanaian artist and filmmaker Larry Achiampong. Composed of sculpture, film, sound, image, and public art, the exhibition is in constant evolution and is currently on display at the PHI Foundation.
Exploring themes of colonialism and post-colonialism, Pan-Africanism and historical inequalities, the project seeks to create a new space and language to address race, class, history and technology, in order to imagine what the future will look like.
As part of the Relic Traveller exhibition, the PHI Foundation presents the Relic film series – a series of sequential original short films directed and scored by Achiampong, that began in 2017.
About the Films
The film series includes Relic 0 (2017), Relic 1 (2017), Relic 2 (2019) and Relic 3 (2019) and the latest addition, Reliquary 2 (2020). The series tells layered stories of the trauma and cultural displacement that come with migration in different political, social and global contexts.
Collectively, they reflect on African diasporic identity in relation to colonialism and feelings of otherness, along with broader themes of agency, the body, space and technology.
Overall, the heart of the film series lies in looking back at generations of trauma and how this trauma is reinforced in today’s global contexts, while also exploring the multiple layers of the self. However, Achiampong’s approach with the Relic films is one of healing and hope, in order to both visualize the future and to envision a united Africa.
Achiampong’s latest addition to the series is Reliquary 2 (2020) is composed of animated sequences and never-before-seen drone footage from the artist’s personal archive, coming from what he describes as the lens of his futuristic alter-ego. In addition, the film features animation by British illustrator Wumi Olaosebikan.
Reliquary 2 is a response to the surrealness of the COVID-19 lockdown. It observes the aspects of forced isolation and Achiampong’s experience of temporarily being separated from his two children. Its slow, meditative pace and captivating images capture the universal experience of the early days of the pandemic, with a special focus on agency, as well as digital technology, which became our sole means of interaction.
The film explores how embedded technology has become in our daily lives, more than ever before– serving as both a projection of ourselves into the external world but also as a way to hide from our true thoughts, feelings and experiences. The film also builds on the postcolonial perspective that the Relic film series sets out to present.
This concept is extremely relevant today in Canada given the ongoing discoveries of mass unmarked graves of residential school children. Indigenous communities, like African diasporic communities, are not only forced to relive the effects of colonialism, physical and cultural displacement, but today and every day they are also faced with generations of trauma, ethnic cleansing and ongoing mistreatment. These communities have to cultivate hope while advocating for change and continuing to grapple with the very systems that oppress them.
Healing can only begin when we acknowledge and reflect on the magnitude of these experiences and address how its ongoing effects ripple into the future.
The entire Relic film series by Larry Achiampong is now on view until January 9th, 2022 at the PHI Foundation, 465 Saint-Jean Street. Free admission, reservations required.
Learn more about the exhibition here.
You can also watch the Relic film series online from Dec 3rd-5th, 2021.