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Exploration of Identities with August Joensalo and Demba Sabally

This episode is in English

This episode is a recording of the event Nightfall which took place on zoom in April 15, 2021. Nightfall is a series of events hosted by SAQMI in both online and physical space. The point of nightfall is to give a place for LGBTQ+ artists and filmmakers to talk about their work and processes – both for finished works and works in progress.

During this nightfall we showed two films: Space is quite a lot of things by August Joensalo, An Ode to Self Exploration made by Sofia Aedo Zahou choreographed by Demba Sabally.

Both films in this programme centered around the experience that we as trans and queer people go through of discovery and exploration of our identities. 

Where An Ode to Self Exploration uses the body as a site to explore and project this newfound identity, Space is quite a lot of things dives into the abstract and dreamlike quality of internal exploration so you get this nice contrast between public/private. 

Aesthetically there was also a really nice contrast between the two films, with An Ode to Self Exploration in the concrete city landscape and Space is quite a lot of things much more ethereal and natural.

Good to note here that August was using the name Aniina during the time of this recording. 

Bridge to Nika & Eliot

After talking to Demba and August more about their processes and visions for their work, we brought in two of those featured in August’s film Elliot – who identifies as non-binary – and Nika – who identifies as a non-binary woman.* Here we wanted to continue this theme of self-exploration within our semi-public semi-private intercommunity space on a more personal level – to deepen the experience of the film. By bringing more personal experiences into the conversation to encourage those in the audience to share their experiences too.

Biographies: 

Sam Message (Host)
Artist using culture to cultivate a more inclusive, supportive and sustainable LGBTQ+ community. Drag-something working with the surreal, the subversive and the political. Curator specialising in queer and feminist histories. Researcher of queering practice and theory. Evaluator and facilitator working with accessibility and engagement. Activist and active community member and socialite. All singing, all dancing, installations, workshops, tours happenings, the whole package. Currently curating for SAQMI and working on their new organisation Status Queer.

August Joensalo
Anniina Joensalo is a Helsinki based film director and writer who uses film as a medium for creating relatable utopias for queer and trans people.They aim to find ethical ways to represent queer bodies on image, with a special focus on trans narratives. Through their practice, they propose alternative ways of being and existing in this world – ways that fall outside the binary of language, bodies, and identities. They are graduating from their MFA in Film at HDK-Valand in 2021. Homepage.

Demba Sabally
Demba is 24 years old and born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden. Right now he’s working in retail and studying on the side. He’s always loved to dance and started voguing about 4 years ago, since then he’s competed in Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen and Paris.

Elliot Hagström
Elliot is a queer and trans student studying education with a specialisation in arts and crafts. Their interests include community organising, visual expression, giving people cool haircuts and cute animals.

Nika Dahlberg-Melin
Nika (b. 1986) is a visual artist based in Gothenburg, Sweden. She works in the intersection of photography and non-photographic visual languages, including sculpture, drawing, collage, written and printed text, and two-dimensional design.

*During the podcast, Nika was described as identifying as non-binary at the time of recording when in reality she identified as a non-binary woman.


Briefly about the movies that were shown during the evening:

Space is Quite a Lot of Things by August Joensalo
2021, 11:25 min, Color, Experimental Documentary
Curiosity about a world without gender sets a journey through a world of jellyfish and disco uncles, creating space for four trans people to share how they relate (or not) to their own gender, imagine visions of their own queer utopia, and reveal whether gender can be felt in your toes.

An Ode to Self Exploration by Sofia Aedo Zahou
2020, 5 min, Color, Hybrid Film
A young man works in his father’s shop when he meets someone who, in the blink of an eye, broadens his perspective of himself and who he can be. An Ode to Self Exploration is a declaration of love for the different identities and nuances that exist amongst us. A short dance film built around the song Mussulo by the artist Mansa.


Credits SAQMI Play:
Producers: Anna Linder and Malin Holgersson
Design and code: Vincent Orback
Composer: Amanda Lindgren
Edited and Mixed by Malin Holgersson
Host: Sam Message
Original: Nightfall #6 curated by Sam Message
and Kolbrún Inga Söring
Publisher: Anna Linder

SAQMI Play is produced with the support from The Swedish Arts Council and Gothenburg City.

Exploration of Identities with August Joensalo and Demba Sabally

00:00:00 / 00:53:39

"SAQMI Play_Nightfall August Joensalo and Demba Sabally_master".

Nightfall #6 Zoom pics
Nightfall #6 Zoom pics
Nightfall #6 Zoom pics
Nightfall #6 Zoom pics
Nightfall #6 Zoom pics
Nightfall #6 Zoom pics
An Ode To Self Exploration 2
An Ode to Self Exploration by Sofia Aedo Zahou, 2020. Photo by Sara Dehlin.
An Ode to Self Exploration by Sofia Aedo Zahou, 2020. Photo by Sara Dehlin.
An Ode To Self Exploration 3
An Ode to Self Exploration by Sofia Aedo Zahou, 2020. Photo by Sara Dehlin.
An Ode To Self Exploration 4
An Ode to Self Exploration by Sofia Aedo Zahou, 2020. Photo by Sara Dehlin.
Anniina Joensalo
Space is Quite a Lot of Things by Anniina Joensalo, 2021. Photo by Louise Hollerup.