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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).


MASK TEMPLATE

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.

You can download and print an A3 mask template or collect one from Alchemy Film & Arts.


FILMING GUIDE

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

  • plan where to film 
  • does the location look suitable for your film? 
  • is there enough light that the camera will work? 
  • 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 

  • are the performers ready? 
  • does the device you are shooting on have enough storage? 
  • does the device have enough battery? 
  • is the camera lens clean? 

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 

  • check that everyone is ready 
  • say ‘stand by’ – this lets the performers and narrator know that they should prepare to be filmed
  • PRESS THE RECORD BUTTON (very important!) 
  • count to 3 and then say ‘action!’ – this lets the performers and narrator know that they should begin their ritual 
  • let the performance happen 
  • make sure you watch what is happening on the screen of your device rather than looking directly – this allows you to make sure the video you are recording is nice to look at
  • once you are sure the action has finished, say ‘cut’ – this tells the performers and narrator that filming has stopped 
  • stop the recording 
  • review your video 
  • gather everyone – performers and narrator – around your device
  • find the video you have just recorded, e.g. in the Photos app on an iPad

STAGE 3 – WATCHING

  • after filming, come together as a group and watch your recording of the ritual
  • enjoy the thanks you have given to Frederick Douglass and Thomas Jenkins
  • take time to enjoy the communal spirit you have generated in performing and filming the ritual

  • enjoy the connections you have collectively made to your immediate environment, and to each other

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. 

toxic poisonous 

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


FURTHER READING

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. 

Black Lives Matter.

Boal, Augusto (1979). Theatre of the Oppressed. 

Brecht, Bertolt (1966). Parables for the Theatre

Burns, Elizabeth (2015). Clay. 

Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery

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.

Green Aspirations

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. 

FURTHER LISTENING

Weather Report ~ Heavy Weather

Stevie Wonder ~ ‘Love’s In Need Of Love Today’

Yemoja ~ ‘Yoruba Spirit of the Ocean’

Songs to Yemaya giving praises to the mother of the ocean 

Abbilona, Tambor Yoruba ~ ‘Yemayá II’

Yemoja ~ ‘Isese Lagba’ 

The Unthanks ~ ‘Sea Song’

Nina Simone ~ ‘Wade in the Water’

Marvin Gaye ~ ‘What’s Going On’

Talking Heads ~ ‘Burning Down the House’

The Doors ~ ‘Light My Fire’

Jimi Hendrix ~ ‘Fire’

Rage Against The Machine ~ ‘Sleep Now in the Fire’

The Bangles ~ ‘Eternal Flame’

Santana ~ ‘Peace on Earth… Mother Earth… Third Stone from the Sun’

Bjork ~ ‘Earth Intruders’

Neil Young ~ ‘Falling Off the Face of the Earth’

Tracey Chapman ~ ‘Heaven’s Here on Earth’

Smashing Pumpkins ~ ‘Tales of a Scorched Earth’

Tom Waits ~ ‘Earth Died Screaming’

Cat Stevens ~ ‘Where Do The Children Play?’

Marvin Gaye ~ ‘Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)’

The Beach Boys ~ ‘Don’t Go Near The Water’

Michael Jackson ~ ‘Earth Song’

Louis Armstrong ~ ‘What A Wonderful World’

Bette Midler ~ ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’

Bambi (1942) – ‘Little April Shower’

John Martyn ~ ‘Solid Air’

Paul Robeson ~ ‘Ol’ Man River’

Gene Kelly ~ ‘Singing In The Rain’

Audrey Hepburn ~ ‘Moon River’

Depeche Mode ~ ‘The Landscape Is Changing’

Morcheeba ~ ‘The Sea’

Devonté Hynes ~ ‘Holy Will’

Air ~ ‘All I Need’

Earth, Wind & Fire ~ ‘Fantasy’

Smoke City ~ ‘Underwater Love’

Ella Andall ~ ‘Yemoja (Mother of All Waters)’

Ella Jenkins ~ ‘Wade in the Water’

The Corries ~ ‘The Skye Boat Song’

Rod Stewart ~ ‘Sailing’

Singing Hands ~ ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ (Makaton)

‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean’

Ray Charles ~ ‘My Bonnie’

‘One Man Went to Mow’

‘Hippopotamus Song’