How did the Moon Arkestra call Truth into Being?

Project Description

I joined the Moon Arkestra towards the end of an intense cycle of hope burn-out, a difficult reality to face within a practice centred on hope-building. I found myself blindly searching for answers to many of the questions listed below, isolated and exhausted. Then we found each other: we wept, we giggled, we discussed our lives and experiences. We tried to make sense of this journey we had landed on and the wider world penetrating that bubble. In Leicester, Aditi said to us ‘just the fact that you are here, that you survived the grain of capture is a miracle. Living is Revolution.’ This gave us the space to exist as we were, playing with the tools we had, supported by a collective mission and commitment to take care of each other. The Moon Arkestra was an exercise in improvised conversation, finding how to meet each other and develop our abilities to whistleblow with and for a collective. There was no map and no words to define our free flowing sound. This allowed me to explore my vessel as a channel and point of communication with Spirit, inspired by Eeshar’s relationship with his Santoor. I exercised an ancestral instinct of survival, fermented by Vee’s insights into the power and uses of improvisation. I had joined the Arkestra wanting to explore truth-telling as spell-casting, to create temportals that work across time to produce a communion of truths. This desire was emboldened and developed through witnessing mirrored fatality’s ritual work and cocoon webs. In our practice, past-foraging, present-actioning and future-dreaming operate on a collective level as an act of summoning. It is this poetic, kinetic knowledge that fills the gaps Western Science cannot reach, that Aime Cesaire spoke about in Poetry and Knowledge: “poetic knowledge is born in the great silence of scientific knowledge”. Knowledge that is felt, surrendered to and trusted to be true as it is seen to exist. A truth that we created beyond borders, genres and names. We classified as free.


April 21st, 2022

A trip to the basement of the Natural History Museum leaves the Arkestra feeling… shuddered. 

In timeless lines, and without a sound, creatures screech in rage and fear. 

The Arkestra question of how Archie the Squid came to be in the possession of the NHM. 

Their response: “he’d already been caught so he’d die if they let him go”. They go on to explain that for something to “exist” in the world, and to possess legal protection, it must be named and classified. 

…and so it is, an accidental end to Archie leads to a noble rescue for the NHM (nicknamed by its creator as the “Temple of Nature”). 

In response to this, I created an unnamed creature inspired by the Caribbean Carnival  tradition: horned “sensay” protectors from Dominica, and the Moko Jumbie protectors of Trinidad, using items of clothing I foraged. There, it is believed that if a spirit knows your name they have power over you, so parents “unname” their children with nicknames; an interesting juxtaposition to the Western reality of naming to “protect”. 


(moko jumbie)

The story goes that I discover the headpiece in the basement of the Natural History Museum. In an act of metamorphosis, the creature and I converge and leave the museum, travelling through England on the Moon Convoy. We dance, we sing, we drum, we write. 

We ask people we meet along the way what they want their journey to the future to look like and ask them to write their answers on our skirt. This skirt develops into a whistleblowing instrument of its own, acquiring bells and beads to declare and protect the wishes of these travellers.

(the skirt when i found it)

I chose to focus on the journey to the future as a different way of connecting with what we instinctively visualise as a landscape, and more often than not, a dystopian one. What would it mean to envision the future as the mutable journey that it is? Here, I wanted to connect the themes of roaming with my Maroon ancestry – indigenous Africans who escaped enslavement and wandered the isles of the Caribbean to form free societies, sometimes, as in the case of Dominica, protected by the land itself. Much has been written about the powers of the land and our communion with it. Aidan Wachter describes ‘dirt magic’ as a ‘vast living universe of spirit-beings’, be they human, animal, wind, rain, rock’ in moments of contemplative and healing togetherness. (MAGIC, 2021). In Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici explains how the weaponisation of witchcraft was used to restrict access to the land during the rise of agrarian capitalism in England. 

Reclamation of the land as alive and autonomous, and working with Nature as a creative collaborator, is a huge part of my personal journey to the future. This starts by asking myself and my community some pertinent questions:

(wishes from audience members written on seeded paper) 

What does the spirit of Maronage look like today, in our fight for freedom of the land and its people? How does embodying this spirit within a performance context activate that fight? In this state of the world, how can we embrace and accept the unknown and unnameable as an unavoidable facet of human life? When the future is unpredictable, how do we combat visions of dystopian landscapes? How do we employ art as incantation?

My final presentation therefore is an attempt to amalgamate some of these learnings into ritual whilst keeping the play of live improvisation, using the experience of the Moon Arkestra and the people we encountered on the Convoy as grounding for a conclusive moment of magic. One that never ends… 


Poetry and Knowledge, Aime Cesaire, 1945

Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici, 2004

MAGIC (Documents of Contemporary Art), ed. by Jamie Sutcliffe, 2021

The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences, Jason A. Josephson-Storm, 2017

Catching the Carnival Jumbie, Dylan Kerrigan and Nazma Muller


Sensay: History and Social Context, Gregory Rabess (