A Graphic Memoir in VR
How is identity conceived? What does it mean for your home to be constructed immaterially via fragments of culture and oral history distorted by the filter of time and migration?
«Ferenj» is a visual dialogue between memory, reality, and the digital, in an afrosurreal dreamscape generated using crowd-sourced data and built using gaming technology. In this immersive graphic memoir, the audience enters a «post-spatial» portrait of «home», as a non-space of history, language, culture, music and time.
This afrosurreal narrative traverses crosswalks, continents and consciousness, moments of cultural alienation, and the director's reconstructed childhood memories from the Empress Taytu Ethiopian Restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio to the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia—her mother’s home country. «Ferenj» reclaims Ethiopian-American mixed-race identity, redefines boundaries between nostalgia and digital imaginary, and challenges reductive narratives of Africa.
«Ferenj» had its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival in 2020 and received the Special Jury Prize ex aequo in Paris at the NewImages Festival.
«Ferenj» has been exhibited at MU Hybrid Arthouse’s Worlding Worlds exhibition in Eindhoven, NL and also as part of its exhibit in Kepler’s Gardens at Ars Electronica 2020.