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Silent Spaces’ – Soumik Datta on his films celebrating cultural spaces and the desire for dialogue: British Museum, Royal Albert Hall and other venues… (video)

Artist composer’s films are stunning and have something rich and meaningful to say to us all, especially as he explains in the conversation…

TODAY marks the day when George Floyd was murdered in the US and his death sparked an outpouring of grief, sadness – but was also a call to action, globally, to address racial injustice and inequality.

It was also the starting point for musician and composer Soumik Datta to reflect on the death and the ensuing Black Lives Matter campaign that was re-invigorated by Floyd’s tragic death.

Datta started to compose his thoughts and wrote the rap lyrics to what became the first video in this series ‘Silent Spaces’, which we discuss in the video.

These films are an exploration of cultural venues and what they mean – both now and in lockdown – which ended formally in the UK on Monday May 17.

Each of the six films in ‘Silent Spaces’ explores a different space and theme and asks powerful questions – which we discuss in our conversation with Datta.

As says, Datta and his fellow creatives of musicians and dancers, numbering around 40 in all, filled the empty spaces with music, poetry, life and art.

The first of ‘Silent Spaces’, which premiered on April 27 on Youtube, was ‘Messengers’ shot inside the British Museum.

Datta inspired by the words of Rabindranath Tagore’s famous Bengali poem, ‘Proshno’ – itself a meditation on humanity, respect, dignity and values – contemporised them, adapted its spirit along with his own reflections following Floyd’s death and this is now what appears in ‘Silent Spaces – Messengers’.

Soumik and brother Souvid, who is the director of the film series, joined fellow creatives, ‘Silent Spaces’ producer Melanie Cura Duball, and dancer Monique Jonas to talk to Bonnie Greer, playwright and former deputy chair of the British Museum’s Board of Trustees and Hartwig Fischer, British Museum director to talk about some of the issues raised in the film, ‘Silent Spaces – Messengers’ as part of the institution’s ‘Era of Reclamation’ series, which started last year and is about how the museum functions in a multi-cultural society and how artefacts and other items collected – sometimes looted – from Britain’s imperial past are displayed and managed.

Picture: © by Souvid Datta. British Museum/Room17. Ihsaan de Banya, Amahla, Soumik Datta, Yasmin Ogilvie, Monique Jonas (LTR). Silent Spaces

In the ‘Messengers’ and acv’s conversation, Datta refers to looking at the bust of Sir Hans Sloane, (1660-1753) whose many possessions formed the basis for the foundation of the British Museum. Sloane, a physician of some repute, travelled to Jamaica in 1687, and was doctor to the Governor, the Duke of Albemarle. Sir Hans treated slaves working on sugar plantations and began his collection, eventually amassing 71,000 items and bequeathing them to the nation. As well as his own investments in slave trading companies, he was married to Elizabeth Langley Rose, who emanated from a wealthy Caribbean sugar plantation family.

The other five films in the series are ‘Movement’ (episode 2) shot inside the club, Depot Mayfield in Manchester. Nightclubs remain closed and are not expected to re-open until all lockdown measures in England are lifted on June 21 – though this is subject to possible change, depending on the data around covid infections.

Episode 3 is ‘Empty Places’ which is filmed inside the Royal Albert Hall in London and sometimes referred to as the nation’s village hall.

Episode 4 is ‘Fields of Hope’ filmed both inside and around the grounds of Hawkwood College, Stroud, Gloucestershire. It is an arts and educational charity.

Episode 5 sees ‘Silent Spaces’ go to Gateshead in the north east of England and is also filmed in the culture centre, Sage there.

The final episode – ‘Shadows’ is shot in King’s Cross Station in London, The Lexington, a music venue in Islington, and Genesis Cinema in Bethnal Green, east London.

All but the first of these videos first dropped on Youtube this month.


‘Silent Spaces’
Trailer –
Epsiode 1 – ‘Messengers’
Soumik Datta Arts (Youtube) Episodes 1-6 Silent Spaces

Era of Reclamation talk:

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture