A still from Akinola Davies' film Untitled. Depicts interior reflections against a window and sky.

Untitled by Akinola Davies Jr

02 Sep 2020

Untitled is a new film commission from acclaimed filmmaker and Studios resident Akinola Davies Jr.

Forming part of Somerset House’s ongoing online Pause programme – a mid-week moment designed to carve out time to enjoy an artist’s work in full. Combining photography, moving image, experimental sound design and archive interviews, Davies’ beautifully intimate film draws on his interactions with his mother during lockdown, exploring themes of mortality, intergenerational relationships, the black female body, and resilience.

On the film Akinola says: "There is redemption in exploring the power of vulnerability. The passage of time and a confrontation of mortality and the eternal.  

This work leans on the sacrifice of motherhood.  
The process of ageing.  
The relationship of the human body with the physical space as expansive lives inhabit the daily ritual of being.  It is a requiem of living memories.  Homage to technology as an archive of embalming our history, bringing life to our past. 

It is the honouring of our mothers so our days on earth can be long. 

Ultimately I don't know what the work is about, but I also know exactly what it is about. It is a work that lives in the quiet space, beyond words. It is ultimately what I place value on. The most value."

An introduction by Akinola Davies Jr

My mother represents for me a lot of emotional outpouring. My fascination with my mother has existed longer than I remember. She was my best friend till I was 13 and still is one of my closest confidants.

She was raised, daughter to a teacher and a civil servant within a working class cultured yet colonial upbringing. Flanked by both rural and cosmopolitan existence. The second daughter within 6 siblings she carved an air of authority which at times made me think she was the eldest. She married my father and lost him a year into my birth. Leaving her widowed, unemployed and in possession of 4 children. She lives in the same house, the same room and sleeps in the same bed in which we lost our father - her partner. I often wonder how she remained so strong - how she compartmentalised the world she found herself.

A curiosity about her life and her stories have always taken a centre stage in our conversations. About 10 years ago I started to record these conversations and have a relatively small archive of interviews. These offerings delve into the psyche and ultimately teach me about her resilience about our resilience. All the interviews happen in different areas of the house. Her favourite chair in the lounge where you can find her slumped over asleep in the living room and in her kitchen whilst she toils away trying to cook a meal for us. Beyond my mother it serves as stories, teachings, anecdotes - a relationship with oneself. 


Film by Akinola Davies Jr and commissioned by Somerset House Studios
Edited by Marvin Jay Alvarez
Director of Photography Nathalie Pitters
Featuring original music by Duval Timothy
Words by Moya Deyoung
With the support of the