10/03/22 - 10/04/22
Please note - the film above is subtitled. Please click the CC on the bottom right of the video player to access these subtitles.

Kiara Mohamed Amin is a Somali, queer, trans multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Liverpool. His practice encompasses filmmaking, poetry, painting and artisanal handicraft. His recent works are primarily concerned with addressing topics such as race, gender, sexuality and self-care.

In Scouse Republic, a new commission for OUTPUT (supported by the Elephant Trust), the artist takes the viewer on a journey through trauma (both medical and personal) and towards radical possibilities for healing. The film explores the role Liverpool has played in this journey - in particular its green spaces and abundance of wildlife.  The Princes Park heron (well known to visitors) appears here as a totem of self-care, a mythical reinterpretation of the Liver Bird. Mohamed credits his reading of These Bones Will Rise Again by Panashe Chigumadzi for introducing him to the idea of ancestral spirits communicating with their descendants through the land, a major theme running through the work.

In the gallery, the film is accompanied by a new mural painted by the artist exploring natural forms and plant life, bringing the nurturing atmosphere of nature into the space.

This project is supported by The Elephant Trust.

Can you tell us about the emotional journey depicted in this film?

This film was commissioned at the beginning of January 2020, but I had been thinking about it since October 2019. Scouse Republic was the name I wanted to name this film straight away because I knew I wanted to create a piece of work that was my love letter to Liverpool. The film's development follows my path of trauma both physically, emotionally and spiritually. Mine is just one journey of trying to make sense with how to move past trauma and how we can use the land to heal ourselves. This film fundamentally changed me as a person and it depicts that.

Why did you decide to paint a mural in the gallery?

I got inspired by cave paintings during my research on the uses of psychedelics for ritual medicinal purposes. I came across cave paintings depicting their relationship and spiritual experiences of mushrooms. I chose to paint Amanita Muscaria mushroom dreaming of us; that we connect to the land to to each other, to dance, play music and engage in ceremonies to bring us together as a community that nurtures one another.

What is an entheogen?

Entheogens can be either psychoactive or substances that induce alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior for the purposes of engendering spiritual development or otherwise in sacred contexts. Indigenous people use entheogens to connect to their ancestors in times of healing, guidance or just needing to connect.
How has Liverpool shaped your practice as an artist, and in particular this film?

Liverpool's not like any other place in the world and I don't think if I were anywhere else, I'd be producing this work. Unintentionally all of my work has been about the Black ancestral history of Liverpool, alongside echoes of my life. I started practicing art in 2018, the first film I made was Black Flowers (2018) and in that film I asked; "Do you still hear the echoes of your ancestors at the docks?" - and it seems I'm still hearing them and I'm only realising now that I have continued this pursuit. After some time in therapy and away communing with nature in Liverpool parks, I've come to believe that the spirit of the ancestors who've been thrown overboard have found themselves bound to this land. Liverpool is sacred in its power because ancient powerful bones are lying here. Many bodies have been thrown out either because they were sick, disabled or for insurance reasons. One of the slaves' owners - a Liverpool mayor, William Gregson - has been known to have more than 9,000 slave deaths and I believe some of those ancestors are here in Liverpool, feeding into the revolution and the reckoning that's to come for Liverpool with her slave history. I come from a lineage of Somali nomads, listening to the land and being its loudspeaker is just a continuation of my ancestral purpose and I seem to have embodied that same relationship with Scouse-land too.

How did your reading of These Bones Will Rise Again by Panashe Chigumadzi influence this artwork?

Chigumadzi stated that bones accumulated in the land create a spiritual portal, an access point to siphon power from those who can lend you their strength to keep going, keep dreaming of liberation. Reading this book had been alongside my park visits and feeling like I'm in direct contact with ancestors who were wanting to comfort me. I got courage from them to keep going, to keep making art and to keep dreaming.

How did the pandemic affect your art practice?

I had several nervous breakdowns and needed to be physically taken care of. Because I had this film to produce I would film a little every day on my camera. I then lost everything due to a corrupted hard drive and got burgled in my own home and had my camera stolen that had footage of my project. This destroyed my morale but my boyfriend encouraged me to film with my phone since I was already going out to parks to do my meditation. I started meditating to deal with PTSD, general anxiety and depression, I would go to the parks around Liverpool to do this and I felt deeply held and comforted by the spirit of the land.

What are your goals or ambitions as an artist?

To create art that works towards Black liberation and Black dreaming. That is anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, anti-cis-heteronormativity.

Early Inhabitants of Algeria Create Cave Art that Shows Mushrooms - Psychedelic Review

Liverpool's Hidden Horrors of Slavery - Black History Month

Food of the Gods - Terence McKenna

Pedagogy of the Oppressed - Paolo Friere

A Voice From The Past To The Future
a poem by Kiara Mohamed Amin

You are so beautiful
Amongst the mist of the red dust
Amongst the mangrove roots
Amongst the warmth of a sun and community
Amongst the colourful face paints
That ward off evil

You are so beautiful
 In the way that you smile with your mind
In the way that you are unyielding in your spirit
In the way that you chose to always have hope
In the way that you allow the ancestors to be remembered
To live on

You are so beautiful
In the way that you take a space
That you know you are not welcomed in
And make it a home
And give it love
And give it forgiveness
And give it a seed for the future

You are so beautiful
In the way that you see the pain of the slaves
Etched in the glory of the buildings
In this city
Do you still hear the echoes of your ancestors at the docks?
Mingling loudly with seagulls?
Of course you do
But you comfort them
And tell them you will build a city of love
That the two birds will always protect

You are so beautiful
In the way that you absolve pain Because you know it is time to heal.
We heal you from your past
We feed you with love, acceptance, and togetherness.
You are a beautiful, complicated, textured fabric
...we start again.