Kemi Anna Adeeko and Safeen James offer up a “real and authentic” view of the Black experience
In their latest short films, Kemi and Safeen join forces to explore the meaning of “home” for the British-Nigerian diaspora and the nature of love between families, friends and romantic partners.
- 19 December 2022
- Joey Levenson
It’s always a treat to check back in with creatives who showed huge early promise. Kemi Anna Adeeko was on our Graduates 2020 list, and has returned to catch our eye with her latest work with Safeen James. The creative duo initially met whilst working at a social media agency and their friendship evolved into something incredibly enriching. “We found our skill set and ways of working really complemented each other,” the duo tells It’s Nice That. “It made sense to establish ourselves as a creative duo, which is how [our first film] A Shot of Kafeen was born.”
As Above and Away From the Fields make up their latest venture – two separate films and photo series, created by Kemi and Safeen, respectively, revolving around the Black experience in two very different ways. “The films initially came from two separate concepts and we found that they ended up having overlapping themes of community and culture,” Kemi and Safeen explain. “While we have distinctive styles as individuals, we share the commonality in wanting to tell entertaining stories around cultural identity and community.”
Kemi’s film As Above was inspired by “the desire to share joy in its purest form,” which was through the lens of love between “families, friends and romantic partners”. It’s a “love letter to Blackness,” which captures “real and authentic relationships,” Kemi and Safeen say. “Everything aesthetically needed to feel warm and intimate” for the two of them, as it was important to seek out subversive aesthetic cues to portray Blackness outside of its usual mainstream depiction. “This informed lighting, styling, location and the soundtrack.” The warmth of As Above certainly shines through and the film radiates a subtle happiness in its charming visual landscape.
Safeen’s Away from the Fields was in part inspired by a Yoruba proverb, “Ile l’abo simi oko,” which Safeen says translates to “home is the place of rest, away from the fields.” The short film and photo series seeks to portray the Black diaspora with this proverb as its jumping-off point. “Away from the Fields is a contribution to the wider conversation around home and what that looks like or feels like for the Black diaspora, namely the British Nigerian diaspora,” the duo says. “This film is our response to any of us within this community who has ever felt estranged [from] our roots.” The film works as a beautiful outreach to British-Nigerians who may feel alienated, letting the scenes unfold with the gentle comfort of acceptance.
“Our main goal with these films is for our audience to feel seen and feel a sense of belonging,” Kemi and Safeen say. “We hope that viewers can see parallels between what we share on screen and their personal experiences.”
GalleryKemi Anna Adeeko: As Above (Copyright © Kemi Anna Adeeko, 2022)
GallerySafeen James: Away from the Fields (Copyright © Safeen James, 2022)
Kemi Anna Adeeko: As Above (Copyright © Kemi Anna Adeeko, 2022)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. He was part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.