Omi Toki, Water is Worthy of Praise
Omi Toki, Water is Worthy of Praise, documents a performance, for the camera, in which a group of women work through water. The film, a collaboration between artist Samantha Blake Goodman and director Nery Madrid, begins with the performers, garbed in lavender, using circular mirrors to reflect themselves and their surroundings. In the next movement, each performer views their reflection in a bowl of water, then bathes, facing each other, seated in a circle. A Yorùbá invocation to the orisa (diety) Ọṣun, sung by 83-year-old priest Baba Kosise, fades in to join together with the location sounds and pre-recorded wind and birdcalls from Madrid's home in Inglewood, California. The invocation, translated, reads: "My mother's house is the River / All Powerful / Women that flee for safety habitually visit her."
Blake Goodman and Madrid write: "Water is the root of everything. When you honor your ancestors, you're working with water, through water. Across the African continent and the African diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean, the energy of water is sacred. It is the life force and connection to your ancestors. Omi Toki, Water is Worthy of Praise explores the energy of Ọṣun and Yemọja, honoring female lineage and the intergenerational connectivity between women. This project reflects on the relevance of these traditions in a secular and natural form while acknowledging and linking the aesthetics and rituals to their indigenous African lineage."
SCREEN: SAMANTHA BLAKE GOODMAN & NERY MADRID was organized by Marco Kane Braunschweiler.
Creative direction, movement direction, casting: Samantha Blake Goodman
Video: Nery Madrid
Photography: Russell Hamilton
Costumes: Gabrielle Datau (Poche)
Performers: Alima Lee, Ashley Blanchard, Autumn Randolph, Bianca Medina, Jahanna Blunt, Jazmin Garcia, Maria Garcia, Rachel Hernandez, Sasha Rivero, Yasmin Madrid Hilliard, Vera Passos
This film was produced by MAPS (Movement Arts Performance Space), dedicated to cultivating the contemporary and traditional arts of the Afro-Latinx and Caribbean diaspora in Los Angeles.