Contemporary music and dance filmed inside a dormant and empty British Museum during the winter lockdown of 2021. Silent Spaces: Episode 1 of 6.
For brothers Soumik and Souvid Datta – life was affected profoundly by lockdown. Like many of their peers, work immediately dried up and suddenly Soumik and Souvid were tested by the fragility of their mental health. This all took place under the backdrop of the George Floyd murder, the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement and a new and mainstream conversation about race and identity.
The journey into central London’s British Museum was a painful one for the Datta brothers. Award winning Director, Souvid was asking himself why the injustice of unequal power relations between the UK and its colonial subjects, in the museum, had been celebrated for so long. Yet the staff welcomed and supported these debates, making it overwhelmingly an exercise of empowerment and self-emancipation.
Culminating in this first episode of SILENT SPACES, Soumik adapted the words of legendary Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore to write and compose a new song – sung in unison between Datta and rising Soul singer, Amahla. With saxophonist Yasmin Ogilvie and star dancer-choreographers Monique Jonas and Ihsaan de Banya sharing the space, ‘Messengers’ channels Black and South Asian histories of the museum through new and diverse voices.
The pivotal spoken-word section, written and performed by Soumik was filmed beside the bust of museum founder & slave owner, Sir Hans Sloane. Soumik’s piece addresses the burden of forgiveness, the guilt of complicity, the mental health cost of racism and the DNA pain of the wider immigrant experience.
Breaking the silence of iconic cultural spaces, closed nightclubs and empty museums that were out of action during the COVID-19 pandemic, SILENT SPACES is an original new series of 6 episodes produced by Soumik Datta Arts.
Directed by – Souvid Datta
Produced by – Melanie Cura Daball
Dance & Choreography – Monique Jonas
Dance & Choreography – Ihsaan de Banya
Vocals – Amahla
Saxophone – Yasmin Ogilvie
Sarod, vocals, poetry & music – Soumik Datta
2nd Camera & Lighting – Jerzy Gudjonsson
Documentary DOP – Natalja Safranova
Mix & Mastering – Camilo Tirado
Project Manager – Minal Mehta
Senior Producer – Oliver Carruthers
The British Museum | Royal Albert Hall | Sage Gateshead | Depot Mayfield | Hawkwood College | WePresent | WeTransfer | Genesis Cinema | The Lexington | BBC Radio 3 | Network Rail | The Space Arts | Arts Council England | Bagri Foundation | SD Films | Dishoom | Timberland
With equipment provided by PixiPixel & Yellow Cactus
Presented by Soumik Datta Arts