This essay reads Mati Diop’s short film Atlantiques (2009) and feature Atlantique (2019) as a twinned pair of cinematic reckonings with the restless spectrality of the colonial past and the tangled urgencies of the capitalist present. The experimental short and narrative feature mobilize mourning and dreaming to address exploitative geographies, haunted waters, and the gendered inequities produced by global circuits of labor. Summoning spectral antagonisms of colonialism and its capitalist mutations, Diop’s two films mobilize their narrative and expressive force to enact the wake work of remembrance. Taken together as “Atlantique(s)” the spectral poetics of both films propose a global, fluid black aesthetics capable of negotiating overlapping and vexed temporalities. Atlantique(s) summon a phantasmic visual and sonic lyricism to give visual shape to the borderless chronotropes of colonization’s afterlives with a promise of vengeance.
Wake Work: Spectral Poetics and Haunted Revenge in Mati Diop’s Atlantique(s)
Yasmina Price is a writer and programmer completing a PhD at Yale University. She focuses on anticolonial cinema from the Global South and the work of visual artists across the African continent and diaspora, with a particular interest in the experimental work of women filmmakers. Her writing has appeared in The Baffler, Art in America, Aperture, Criterion and elsewhere.
Yasmina Price; Wake Work: Spectral Poetics and Haunted Revenge in Mati Diop’s Atlantique(s). Film Quarterly 1 March 2023; 76 (3): 55–62. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2023.76.3.55
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