Onyeka Igwe is an artist filmmaker whose practice is rooted in politics and activism. She originally intended to work directly in politics, however the realisation that “making films could be a way of doing politics” turned her to the moving image, allowing her to combine activism with a lifelong interest in cinema.
Onyeka was introduced to the work of Black Audio Film Collective and the 1980’s ‘workshop’ movement in 2011, sparking an interest in colonial moving image archives. Using her personal archives, she began making works like We Need New Names (2015) which addressed the concepts of female identity, diaspora, cultural memory and fiction.
Over the past few years Onyeka’s work has become preoccupied with “the physical body and geographical place as sites of historical, cultural and political meaning”. No Dance, No Palaver (2017/18) centres around these ideas, examining the 1929 Aba Women’s War and the “visual trauma of the colonial archive” and attempting “to transform the way in which we know the people it contains”.
Onyeka’s most recent work – the names have been changed, including my own and truths have been altered(2019) – is a story about her grandfather told in four different ways. Disrupting notions of knowledge and documentation, it throws the “everyday within the archive” into relief by rewriting stories of diasporic African life “against the grain of colonial history’s master narratives”.