Spike Island | Adam Khalil and Bayley Sweitzer with Oba: Nosferasta
Spike Island presents "Nosferasta", a major new film commission by Brooklyn-based filmmakers Adam Khalil and Bayley Sweitzer. "Nosferasta" is the first iteration of a Rastafarian vampire film starring and co-written by Oba, a Trinidadian artist and musician based in Brooklyn. The film reimagines Oba’s origin story; a nightmarish chronicle of colonial encounters dating back to 1492. Having been shipped as cargo from West Africa to the Caribbean, Oba is seduced and bitten by the vampire Christopher Columbus, ensuring an undying allegiance to the colonial project. Together this unlikely duo spread vampirism across the Western Hemisphere, pulling the strings of ‘New World’ geopolitics until Oba encounters Rastafarianism, an anticolonial religion, which, with a little help from the Devil’s lettuce (cannibis), enables him to finally break Columbus’ spell.
The film combines cinematic period scenes with unscripted vignettes of Oba’s post-vampiric, present-day existence. These portray his real-life struggles with the colonial bureaucracy that he helped devise, including his pursuit of U.S. citizenship and literacy. Flitting between film forms, timelines, locations and perspectives, "Nosferasta" tells the story of an ageing Rastafarian vampire reckoning with the impact of colonialism. It examines the guilt surrounding his complicity in imperial conquest, while acknowledging the extreme difficulty of unlearning centuries of vampiric conditioning. Ultimately, the film tackles an uncomfortable question: How can you decolonise yourself, if it’s in your blood?
Adam Khalil and Bayley Sweitzer, Nosfesrasta (2021). Film Still. Courtesy of the Artists. Commissioned by Gasworks, London and Spike Island, Bristol
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