The Flickering Darkness: A film about food and displacement

On day one we met at Stockewell Community Centre in South London.  A film made in Colombia called The Flickering Darkness was screened.  We watched the 13 minutes video showing the empty market place at night, and gradually seeing labourers starting to unload goods from the trucks and vans that had arrived from every corner of the country. 


In this project, “The Flickering Darkness”, Juan explores the economic politics and social hierarchies surrounding the experience of food

The installation captures the journey of produce from its arrival before dawn to its consumption, highlighting the hard work of night workers in the factory, the feverish activity of chefs in the kitchen, and the leisurely consumption of diners in the restaurant. The project intentionally travels a path of lingering uncertainty, emphasising the accidental and the unexpected.

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Displaced labourers from rural areas flocked to Corabastos, where they joined the ranks of workers labouring through the night. The market’s relentless activity continued unabated until dawn, symbolising the ceaseless flow of people and goods preparing the food that later will be consumed throughout the city.


Following the screening, participants divided into groups, each tasked with researching a continent. They scoured images of global marketplaces, examining food, people, architecture, and locales. Each group curated five images for presentation. Subsequently, they engaged in discussions about favourite dishes, sharing familial cooking traditions and anecdotes, fostering a rich exchange of culinary heritage and personal narratives.


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Following the screening, Juan inquired if anyone had experienced Brixton market. Several shared fond memories of their parents sourcing Caribbean and African goods there. Juan then delved into the interconnected themes of culture, identity, and food, highlighting how markets serve as hubs for community interaction. Beyond mere commerce, they foster connections, allowing for the exchange of stories and experiences, thereby nurturing the vitality of the community.

We explored a detailed timeline outlining our upcoming activities, particularly focusing on our engagement with digital technology. Through interactive sessions, the participants would delve into various aspects of digital technology, learning through hands-on activities and discussions. This approach would provide them with a comprehensive understanding of digital tools and their applications in the recording of Brixton Market.


Day 2: Visit the Serpentine Gallery, London

One day two, we gathered at the serpentine gallery to visit the exhibition of James Barnor, a Ghanaian photographer who has had a career spanning over six decades, working as a studio portraitist, photojournalist, and Black lifestyle photographer-at-large. He is known for his striking photographs that document major social and political changes occurring in both the UK (London) and Ghana (Accra) throughout his life.
His work is characterised by its ability to capture the essence of African diasporic experiences, portraying a wide range of subjects, from political and sports personalities to everyday folk.
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Our gallery visit offered a captivating glimpse into James Barnor’s photographic journey, particularly his evocative snapshots of 1970s London and his contributions as a fashion photographer. The exhibition provided valuable insights into Barnor’s symbiotic relationship with the cityscape, notably capturing the vibrancy of locales like Covent Garden market. Participants were engaged, selecting three photos each, echoing Barnor’s lens through their own cameras, fostering a personal connection to his timeless imagery.

Brixton Food Market

In the early days stalls sold ‘traditional’ fruit and veg: potatoes, apples, carrots, onions. Whereas over time the stalls have been more known for selling Caribbean and African foodstuffs such as yams and plantains, as well as reggae music, and clothing that all reflects the changes in the makeup of the community.


In our visit to Brixton market, we walked through the arcades that house Brixton Village, Market Row and Reliance Arcade.



And back at Stockwell Community Centre, we shared stories that connected us with the place, and people from our families who used to buy there.  The participants engaged in lively discussions, sharing their preferences for  subjects and topics they would like to photograph within the marketplace. 



Day Four: Recording the place

In the next session, they embarked on capturing vibrant images of stalls and people, emphasising the interplay of colours, textures, and shapes. This hands-on exploration allowed them to translate their artistic visions into compelling visual narratives, encapsulating the dynamic essence of the marketplace through their lenses.



Every Saturday, Brixton Market pulsates with vibrant energy, a symphony of bustling activity intermingled with diverse melodies and languages. Amidst the myriad of stalls offering an array of goods—from fresh produce to kitchenware and textiles—encounters unfold between sellers, passersby, and fellow shoppers. The market’s dynamic ambiance captivates the senses, as aromas waft through the air and colourful displays tantalise the eye. Each corner reveals a new facet of the community, a tapestry woven from the interactions of individuals from all walks of life, contributing to the rich tapestry of Brixton’s cultural mosaic.

Armed with our mobile phones, we embarked on a sensory journey through Brixton Market. The Caribbean food stalls beckoned with vibrant hues, their yellow canopies swaying in the breeze, enticing prospective customers. Within the open storefronts, glimmers of sequins and jewellery adorned the displays, catching the light and adding to the market’s allure. Meanwhile, neon lights bathed the scene in a kaleidoscope of colours, evoking a sense of excitement akin to chasing dreams through lottery tickets. Each sight and sound captured on our devices served as a digital snapshot of the market’s dynamic atmosphere, preserving the essence of this bustling cultural hub for future reminiscence.