In the wake of disaster, so much survives. Responding to the themes of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower series, the Traveller conjures a time of interstellar voyage that’s less about exploration than it is about the transfer of knowledge across generations and planets. The Traveller returns to a place of Black settlement/displacement on Saugeen Ojibway Nation Traditional Territory to restore a site made for travellers and Freedom Seekers in marginal spaces.* Embedded in the film are stories from griot Janie Cooper Wilson; teachings from my father that we are from the stars; herbal knowledge from my mother; and Anishinaabe teachings from the land on which I am situated, however tenuously. The Traveller imagines that teachings of plants – medicinal, social, spiritual, biological, and nutritional - survives into the future continuing to nurture communities beyond their original location and affording their survival into the future.
The film was shot using a Bolex camera. Found footage and sounds from NASA’s Mars Rover expedition as well as Google Sky maps were also used. Flowers were used to derive images on celluloid film through handprocessing techniques learned from Phil Hoffman and the Film Farm. These flowers include sorrel from Jamaica, non-native plants or “invasives” that indicate both forced migration and settlerism, and indigenous strawberry plants that have always been here. The flowers were gathered by laying down tobacco and asking the plants, following the Indigenous protocols I have learned from Lori Kewaquom. The strawberry plants were picked following Black diasporic protocols taught to me by Janie Cooper Wilson. Strawberry flowers were picked during June 2021 of this pandemic by asking the Black ancestors that died during the last pandemic on whose mass grave the strawberries grow. *On the Fence, a site-specific sculpture by Debbie Ebanks Schlums and Don Miller