Ana Beatriz Almeida is a visual artist and storyteller whose work focuses on African traditions and their connections to the African diaspora throughout history. She has developed a series of rites to honour those who did not survive the transatlantic trade of enslaved people but remain alive in spirit. Focusing on memory, the meaning of life and death, as well as the infinity that resides between both, in this short film Almeida invites the griot Cici de Oxalá to narrate the creation of the world. The figure of the griot has a very crucial symbolism within African traditions as holders of collective memory who bind communities together through a tireless transmission of the values of ancestrality and spiritual belief. In Senegalese Wolof traditions, the physical presence of griots after death used to be prolonged by burying their bodies inside the trunks of baobab trees. This, it was believed, would allow the tree to be infused with their knowledge so it would remain close for centuries afterwards. In a strong and poetic gesture, de Oxalá calls for a reconnection to nature by evoking the very first act of creation that brought about the world.

Work in the exhibition: Griot narrative on the creation of the world (2022), video, 1' 44". Courtesy of the artist and Shai Andrade