Ancestral Wisdoms, Ifeatu Nnaobi

If you could ask your ancestors (living or dead) a question, what would it be?

This interactive installation invites participants to join in a conversation across continents and across time. A customised Artificial Intelligence platform receives queries from members of the public and generates answers at random, offering advice gained from generations past.

Ifeatu Nnaobi’s interactive installation invokes deeper questions of heritage and connection for Black and people of colour living in the diaspora. The aim of this project is to prove thinking about how we exist as part of families (biological or chosen), communities (local or global).

Will your burning questions chime with a voice echoing down the ages?

Ancestral Wisdoms, which was shown at Frequency Festival 2021 and Brighton Digital Festival 2021, is a visual arts project about searching for and creating one’s present and future self through the past.

For the interactive installation, audiences were invited to ask their ancestors a question through a speaker and recorder, and, in response, hear from a Black or person of colour living in the diaspora what they wished they could ask their ancestor.

It focuses on Black and Brown diaspora individuals who are linking across time and place by invoking their migratory experiences, genealogy, cultural and traditional heritage in their present-day life.

Ifeatu Nnaobi says,

“The project itself becomes wisdom that the protagonists are leaving behind for their descendants.

This pays homage to the tradition of passing down wisdom and knowledge through oral storytelling in many Black and Brown indigenous cultures. A tradition that continues today for many valuable reasons but also because of marginalisation from mainstream media. The monologues are critical because it is time for these voices to speak loudly and strongly in their own words.”

Read more about the project on Frequency Festival’s Artist Spotlight

About the Artist

Ifeatu Nnaobi (she/they) is a filmmaker and photographer focused on conceptual and documentary storytelling. Ifeatu works closely with communities; centring queer, feminist, and migrant narratives through an intersectional approach.

Ifeatu’s work has been featured at The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Sheffield DocFest, Future of Storytelling NYC, Haus der Kulturen Welt, and Les Rencontres d’Arles. Ifeatu is a National Geographic Explorer and is currently based in Berlin, Germany.

About the Commission

 Ancestral Wisdoms has been produced by Lighthouse and commissioned through Digital Democracies.

Digital Democracies