“They didn’t give too much thought to their existence. The dark, the hidden, the damned. They were left in the crevices of society, not to be seen or heard, or felt or spoken of. Nothing about them felt like it warranted a thought. No one has heard from them in endless nights, whispers maybe, but whispers don’t mean much in a world of shattering.
That silence was instituted for a reason, a hollow, frigid void that takes in anything of action, wresting any life or spark from it, leaving only a scratch of its presence behind. All for the purpose of keeping a river stagnant.
But, have you ever seen water moving so still it looks like it’s stuck in time? Laminar flow is what they call it—liquid moving at such high momentum, with such low displacement that it appears still. This is how they operate: the silence is not what we think.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
If you really think about it, there is something unnerving about silence, isn’t there? Not the quiet, but actual silence, a void that is almost unnatural. It’s almost always the signal of something to come. It’s a kind of emptiness that is anxious, it swells and builds. Some say it’s one of the loudest things you can imagine, that we can hear it within our bones and not our ears. It’s the 3 A.M. bellow. You know the feeling. But what follows is the new day, and what that brings is uncertain. Still it is a new day overflowing with possibilities.
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Did you forget about the silence?
It’s still here.
Listen carefully, if you look past what is shattered into those same corners of society you will find them. Where there is the dark, the hidden, and the damned, you will see the Black Moons, the Demigods, the Ancestral Bones, the names after names. The Suns after the silence. If anything, in some twisted fate, we find the worlds that have been bubbling despite that instituted silence.
It is a return.
A heart of a people, a rebellious spirit and innovative resurgence of the Demigods.
The still rivers will rush with the coming rains and dry banks will fill and overflow.
This is a return.
The silence has swollen long enough and, well, again, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
It’s 3 A.M. and I’m sure we’re all very tired.”
These artworks depict the demigods, beings that exist in the space between humanity and the unknown, the type that would emerge from the colonial framework. They draw from the formation of cultural ideas of Jonkonnu, with characters such as Pitchy Patchy and Horse Head.
The provided excerpt is from a fictional folk tale telling of these demigods. It uses these world-building ideas to help form a space in which the artworks give agency to each piece. Representative of real-world situations and issues, these depictions tell a story of culture, uprising, and the struggles within the colonial framework.
The Demigods, Animated
Taj Francis is a Jamaican visual artist with diverse interests of expression mainly focused through illustration. As a graduate of the Edna Manley College of Visual Arts, with a major in illustration, he has worked on many projects ranging from design work to creative direction, while also being in several art exhibitions both locally and internationally. Being a multifaceted artist, his work is produced in several forms: paintings, digital art, murals, video art, and animation. Through these mediums, his pieces explore the subtle nuances of human behaviour and identity, specifically relating to African ancestry.