Entering into Njaimeh Njie’s installation is like walking into a memory. Easy family conversations fill and shape the space, and the voices fade and emerge as we move from living room, to kitchen, and back.
Entering into Njaimeh Njie’s installation is like walking into a memory. Easy family conversations fill and shape the space, and the voices fade and emerge as we move from living room, to kitchen, and back. Figures appear throughout the rooms, animating the otherwise darkened spaces. Here, Njie recreates a family home that has been lived in and loved for a long time, but the boxes, suitcases, and missing items against the aged wallpaper imply a move in progress.
Home can be a space where families gather, share stories, and fortify bonds. Home can also be a site of precarity, particularly for Black families in the face of displacement, gentrification, and intergenerational changes. Njie’s installation asks us to reflect on the nature and importance of family, memory, and tradition, but also asks us to ponder what we take with us when the time comes to leave home.
I’ve lived in and been around homes where there was always food, laughter, and conversation when friends and family would gather. Those spaces ground me, they fill me up, and they make me feel connected to legacy and tradition beyond myself. Still, when I look around my hometown and so many other cities, I see the spaces that Black folks have called home systematically being altered and/or destroyed. I often ponder the interior life of these spaces–what they’ve seen and held. I chose to focus on the love and the joy in this installation, but by placing it in the context of memory, I’m interrogating why so many Black families don’t get to continue making home where they please. I hope to conjure a sense of home that feels good and familiar, and also hold space for the complex feelings that come with the precarity of home.
Njaimeh Njie is a photographer, filmmaker, and multimedia producer. Her practice centers everyday people, narratives, and landscapes, with a particular focus on how black people perceive themselves and their experiences in the places they call home.