Written and Illustrated by Paul Majek
I died, but I was reborn. I’m in the water which quenches your thirst, the air you
inhale and exhale. I am you.
Death, rebirth and the voyage are inseparable: the fugitive in search of the unknown, our souls. A fugitive practice: taking care of and listening to our ancestors, our spirits and our lineage. We know this world, they know the unknown. Mustakeem’s ‘Slavery at Sea’ (2016) quotes Penny Dreadful: “Did you imagine that I was dead? That I could die?”. These words remind us that death is not the end. The work of both Packer and Mustakeem explores the spiritual and the archival, attempting to honour the lost souls, connecting with an archive of the forgotten and unimaginable. “How are the dead remembered?” (Sharpe, 2016) — we remember through a fugitive art practice, through exploring our lineage and those who came before, through the archive. In ‘Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (Breonna! Breonna!)’ (2020), Packer attempts to reconcile with death and somehow find refuge, using images of the interior of a Louisville home to imagine the horrific scene of Breonna Taylor’s murder. Sharpe refers to these scenes and spaces as “the wake, the shop, the hold, and the weather”, common spaces where George Floyd and many other Black people have been murdered: in the streets, in the hold, in the ship, in institutional structures.