Zina Saro-Wiwa's new video installation "Eaten By the Heart" explores how love and intimacy are not universal, but can in fact be culturally informed.
Produced by Zina Saro-Wiwa, Eaten By the Heart is a compelling video installation and documentary project which explores the cultural specificity of the performance of love. The first sequence, "Eaten By the Heart I" is perhaps the most popular and poses the question "How do Africans kiss?" While the first sequence follows standard documentary format, the second and third installments favour a more evocative tone through experimental integration of these personal expressions of intimacy and heartbreak. As Saro-Wiwa states,
“So many of us cite with confidence that Love Is Universal. But the performance of love is, it seems, cultural. I wonder how the impact of how we choreograph and culturally organize the performance of love impacts what we feel inside and who we become.”
In Part III, through a "breathing orchestra" Saro-Wiwa collates the voices and faces of different bodies throughout the African diaspora while they share their personal experiences of love, intimacy, and family. Phrases such as "I am not alone, but I am lonely" and "When I think of black love, I don't think of butterflies in an open field" blend with the sounds of breathing bodies and individual histories of how love has come to mean through culturally-specific ways of knowing and feeling. It does no justice to the installation to explain or catalog the different components with words, so take a look at the visually astounding "Eaten By the Heart Part III: Breathing Orchestra" below. Trust, it will be five minutes well spent. Also check parts I and II here.