RITUAL PASSAGE: MEMORIALS FOR FREDERICK DOUGLASS AND THOMAS JENKINS
by Jade Montserrat
This webpage and its contents are designed to complement Ritual Passage: Memorials for Frederick Douglass and Thomas Jenkins, an exhibition, publication, film and educational resource by artist Jade Montserrat.
Ritual Passage was created during a six-month artist residency as part of The Teviot, the Flag and the Rich, Rich Soil – an Alchemy Film & Arts programme of residencies, commissions and community engagement exploring the borders, boundaries and lines of Hawick.
Ritual Passage was exhibited during the twelfth edition of Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival (28 April – 2 May).
Ritual Passage: Memorials for Frederick Douglass and Thomas Jenkins is designed to guide communities through the collaborative process of making a film. The film consists of four rituals, each dedicated to one of the natural elements, to be performed to camera.
Ahead of their rituals, performers are encouraged to produce and decorate a mask in response to the four elements. The mask helps performers embody the elements through play.
The film element of Ritual Passage can be simply made using a smartphone or tablet.
Ritual Passage consists of four rituals to be performed to camera. Each ritual revolves around one of the four natural elements – air, earth, water, and fire.
The rituals can be filmed in any order. If you do not have filming technology to hand, you are more than welcome to view the rituals as performances – they do not need to be filmed.
Using everyone’s imagination and creativity, performers in the film will improvise, using only their bodies, to create moments for memorialising Frederick Douglass and Tom Jenkins.
At the beginning of each ritual, the stories of these men are to be read aloud by a narrator or narrators. Ahead of their rituals, performers are encouraged to produce and decorate a mask in response to the four elements. A template for these masks can be found above.
STAGE 1 – PREPARING
are there any lights that will distract the performers?
are you going to be in anyone’s way?
are there any intrusive sounds such as passing cars?
make sure everyone involved knows what they are doing
STAGE 2 – FILMING
turn on the camera – if you are using a device such as an iPad or mobile phone, open the camera app
select video mode
adjust any settings to make the video look like you would like it to record your video
STAGE 3 – WATCHING
take time to enjoy the communal spirit you have generated in performing and filming the ritual
STAGE 4 – UPLOADING
ABOUT JADE MONTSERRAT
Jade Montserrat’s research-led practice excavates shared histories alongside delving into her personal narrative. Montserrat works at the intersection of art and activism through painting, performance, film, sculpture, installation, print and text; she interrogates these mediums with the aim to expose gaps in our visual and linguistic habits.
Ritual Passage: Memorials for Frederick Douglass and Thomas Jenkins launched at the twelfth edition of Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival (28 April – 2 May 2022), which also opened with a keynote from Jade.
Artist image: Oliver Benton – Jade Montserrat delivers her keynote at the opening of the twelfth Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, 28 April 2022
Graphic design: Matthew Walkerdine, The Good Press
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
abolish to formally and completely end a system, practice, or institution or stop something, such as a law
abundance a plentiful and ample quantity of something
ally cooperative, united connection or relation between; an alliance that is mutually supportive in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle; common usage refers to allyship in reference to a person who is not a member of an oppressed group but who expresses or offers direct support to that group
anglicise to make a foreign word, name, or phrase English in form or character
bacteria single-celled organisms that lack a distinct nucleus and are invisible to the naked eye
bigot an intolerant and antagonistic person who is obstinately or devoted to a belief, opinion, prejudices or faction, especially one who is prejudiced against, or hateful towards a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group such as a racial or ethnic group
British Empire a group of countries ruled over by a single ruling power; the British Empire controlled over 23% of the world’s population at its peak, usually taking and maintaining control through invasion, economic pressure, political manipulation and violence
cashmere fine wool, obtained from cashmere goats, pashmina goats, and some other breeds of goat, used to make yarn and soft twilled fabrics.
chattel an item of tangible movable property, i.e. an enslaved person, held as the legal property of another
community a group of people or social unit living in a given geographical area or in virtual space through communication platforms, having a particular characteristic, sharing or having certain beliefs, attitudes, values, customs and interests in common or common social, professional, economic, and political interests
compassion sympathy for the sufferings, misfortunes or distress of others together with a desire to alleviate it
consent permission, approval or agreement for something to happen
decomposition the state or process of rotting and decaying
dehumanisation the process of denying and depriving a person or group of full humanness and dignity.
East India Company an English, and later British, joint-stock company founded in 1600, formed to trade in the Indian Ocean region
embody to express or give bodily form to an idea, quality, or feeling
erosion gradual geological destruction or diminution of earthen materials
floodplain an area of flat, naturally fertile land adjacent to a river, formed mainly of river sediments and subject to flooding
food justice a response to food insecurity and economic pressures that prevent access to healthy, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods
freedom fighter a person who takes part in a revolutionary movement against an oppressive political or social establishment
grief deep and poignant distress caused by intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death
hydro power water power used to produce electricity or to power machines
hypocrisy the contradictory practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs to which one’s own behaviour does not conform or the practice of engaging in the same behaviour or activity for which one criticises another
indentured slavery a contract between two individuals, where one person is contracted to work without salary for a specific number of years
industrialisation the development of manufacturing industries and economic re-organisation in formerly agrarian countries or regions on a wide scale
intergenerational relating to, involving, or affecting interaction between members of different generations
liberal a political and moral philosophy advocating individual rights, civil liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law
liberation the action of freeing someone from imprisonment, slavery, or oppression
liberty to act and choose as one pleases
literacy the ability to read, write and communicate competently and effectively or with knowledge in a specified area
memorial an object or place, speech or ceremony established to commemorate a person or event.
micro-organism a microscopic organism, or microbe, especially a bacterium, virus, or fungus that can be seen only through a microscope
mourning the expression of sorrow and grief for loss, specifically the death of someone or some peoples
nutrients chemical compounds that provide nourishment essential for providing energy, the maintenance of life and for growth and reproduction; examples include proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals
oppression prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority or power
organic relating to or derived from living matter, or food produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals
patron a wealthy or socially influential person who gives financial or other support to a person, organisation, or cause.
Quaker a member of the Religious Society of Friends, a historically Protestant Christian movement founded by George Fox c. 1650 and devoted to peaceful principles
racist someone who or a system that wields superiority over, is prejudiced against or antagonistic and hateful towards a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group or national origin, typically one that is a minority or marginalised
radical a person, or a member of a political party or section of a party who advocates thorough or complete political or social change, pursuing such aims
reforestation the action of replanting forest cover (as by natural seeding or by the artificial planting of seeds or young trees)
revolution a forcible sudden and radical change in political power and political organisation in favour of a new system
ritual a performed ceremony involving gestures, words, actions, or objects.
resistance the opposing refusal to accept or comply with something
shaman a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the spirit world who practice ritual, divination and healing
slavery the practice or system of owning and exploiting enslaved people.
smiddy a blacksmith’s shop
solidarity unity or agreement of feeling or action and mutual support, especially among individuals with a common interest
symbolic serving as a representation or is something that has a greater meaning because of what it represents.
transatlantic crossing or extending across the Atlantic Ocean
white supremacism the belief that white people are superior and should therefore dominate society and maintain power, typically to the exclusion or detriment of other racial and ethnic groups, in particular black or Jewish people
xenophobe a person that is prejudiced against people and customs of foreign origin
Andrews, Michael (1991). The Delectable Mountain: the Ayres Rock Series and other Landscape Paintings.
Billington, F.H. (1942). Compost for garden plot or thousand-acre farm: a practical guide to modern methods.
Boal, Augusto (1979). Theatre of the Oppressed.
Brecht, Bertolt (1966). Parables for the Theatre.
Burns, Elizabeth (2015). Clay.
Césaire, Aimé (1972). Discourse on Colonialism.
Dixon, Luke (2020). Performance Prompts.
Douglass, Frederick (2019). My Bondage and My Freedom.
Douglass, Frederick (1845). Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass.
Duffill, Mark B. ‘New light on the lives of Thomas Jenkins and James Swanson.’
‘Ballad of Tom Jenkins.’
Freire, Paolo (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Gumbs, Alexis Pauline (2018). M. Archive After the End of the World.
Hawick Archaeological Society Transactions. Hawick Archeological Society.
hooks, bell (1994). Teaching to Transgress.
Jenkins, Joseph (2019). The Humanure Handbook: Shit in a Nutshell (4th edition).
Julien, Isaac (2019). Lessons of the Hour.
Kennedy, John W. ‘A negro prince in Teviotdale.’
Kisch, John and Edward Mapp (1992). A Separate Cinema: Fifty Years of Black Cast Posters.
LeCoq, Jacques (2000). The Moving Body: Teaching Creative Theatre.
Mack, John (1994). Masks: the Art of Expression.
Manjapra, Chris (2018). ‘When Will Britain Face Up To Its Crimes Against Humanity?‘ The Guardian. 29 March 2018.
Material Legacies of Slavery: Scottish History Zine. Wide Open Sea.
Montserrat, Jade, et al (2021). Tender Order.
McCullough, Barbara (1979). L.A. Rebellion | on UCLA’s ‘The View’.
Olufemi, Lola (2021). Experiments in Imagining Otherwise.
Pettinger, Alasdair (2019). Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846: Living an Antislavery Life.
Pollen, Annebella (2015). The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift.
Rainer, Yvonne (2018). Poems.
Redpath, Alastair (2020). ‘Hawick and the legacy of slave-owner compensation.’ The Hawick Paper. 19 June 2020.
Redpath, Alastair (2019). ‘Hawick and slavery.’ The Hawick Paper. 1 March 2019.
Redpath, Alastair (2019). ‘Frederick Douglass and other abolitionists.’ The Hawick Paper. 15 March 2019.
Redpath, Alastair. ‘Frederick Douglass’ historic visit to Hawick.’
Redpath, Alastair (2019). ‘Britain’s first black schoolteacher.’ The Hawick Paper. 8 March 2019.
Scott, Douglas. ‘Tom Jenkins in Mauritus.’ Hawick Archeological Transactions.
Somé, Malidoma Patrice (1998). The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose through Nature, Ritual and Community.
Stauffer, John, Zoe Trodd and Celeste-Marie Bernier (2018). Picturing Frederick Douglass: An illustrated biography of the nineteenth century’s most photographed American.
‘To Mr John Cairns’ (1846). Kelso Chronicle. 6 November 1846.
Walsh, Fintan (2013). Theatre and Therapy.
Whiteman, Andy (2013). The Poor Had No Lawyers.
Yussof, Kathryn (2018). A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None.