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Obi Mbu (The Primordial House): An Igbo Creation Myth

"Obi Mbu (The Primordial House): An Igbo Creation Myth" (2021) is a 30 minute experimental dance film that is centered in the Primordial House, located in the Sirius star system, from which creation emerges. Eke-Nnechukwu, the Igbo high god, and Chukwu, her masculine counterpart, exist in perfect unity in and as the Blackness of space. Although they are dual aspects of the Primordial Androgynous deity, Chukwu sections off a part of space exclusively for himself in the form of a sacred pillared chamber in the heart of the Primordial House. He engages in a secret work by dancing in and out of this chamber, which sets off a chain of irrevocable circumstances that lead to our current world and condition.

  • Mikael Owunna
  • Marques Redd
  • Mikael Owunna
  • Marques Redd
  • Marquita Sams
  • Mikael Owunna
  • Ursula Payne
    Movement DIrector
  • Corey Bourbonniere
    Key Cast
  • Victoria Watford
    Key Cast
  • Herman Pearl
    Sound Design
  • Marquita Sams
    Movement Consultant
  • Isabelle Analo
    Production Assistant
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Experimental, Dance
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes 58 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 17, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    25,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Iris Project Gallery
    Los Angeles
    United States
    November 6, 2021
  • Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh
    United States
    November 14, 2021
  • The Esalen Institute
    Big Sur
    United States
    December 8, 2021
  • Kelly Strayhorn Theater
    United States
    February 25, 2022
Director Biography - Mikael Owunna, Marques Redd

Mikael Owunna, Director
Mikael Owunna is a queer Nigerian-American filmmaker, multi-media artist, and engineer. Exploring the intersections of visual media with engineering, optics, Blackness, and African cosmologies, Owunna’s work has been exhibited across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America and been collected by institutions such as the Nasher Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Equal Justice Initiative, Duke University Pratt School of Engineering, and National Taiwan Museum. His work has also been featured in media ranging from the New York Times to CNN, NPR, VICE, and The Guardian. He has lectured at venues including Harvard Law School, World Press Photo (Netherlands), Tate Modern (UK), and TEDx. Owunna has published two monographs: "Limitless Africans" (FotoEvidence, 2019) and "Cosmologies" (ClampArt, 2021).

Marques Redd, Director
Marques Redd is a filmmaker, traditional African cosmologist, independent scholar, and multi-media artist. Redd’s published academic essays include “Astro-Black Mythology: The Poetry of Sun Ra” and “Those Mysteries, Our Mysteries: Ishmael Reed and the Construction of a Black Esoteric Tradition,” and he has contributed essays for arts institutions and galleries including ClampArt, Silver Eye Center for Photography, and Women of Visions. In October 2021, he and Owunna launched a public art collaboration with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra entitled “Playing the Cosmic Strings,” and they are working on a series of glass sculptures that will be exhibited at the Pittsburgh Glass Center in 2023. Redd is also currently writing a scholarly text entitled "Ancient Origins, Future Destinies: Blackness, World Creativity, and the Word."

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Director Statement

Inspired by Nze Chukwukadibia’s “Leopards of the Magical Dawn,” this film retells a Nigerian Igbo creation myth that is associated with the fire element. As the world was rocked by global protests in response to the brutal murder of George Floyd, we were captivated by how this story recasts Blackness as the divine, cosmic source from which all life emerges while simultaneously engaging complex themes of sacrifice, death, and resurrection. We chose to stage this experimental work as a dance film in order to utilize a specific West African storytelling modality and bring to life the Igbo axiom that the created world is a perfectly staged simulacrum in which everything and everyone dances (ono n’ndu bu ono n’egwu), from the smallest atom to the largest galaxies. Dance, in this sensibility, can be understood as depicting the very movement of the universe itself. In order to capture the cosmic grandeur and scope embodied in this myth, we deployed innovative lighting and painting techniques. We meticulously hand painted the dancers’ bodies with fluorescent paints that only glow under ultraviolet light, built a fluorescent set adorned with traditional Igbo symbology, and illuminated each scene under a backdrop of ultraviolet light. The end result is our directorial debut, “Obi Mbu (The Primordial House): An Igbo Creation Myth,” which presents the complex depths of Igbo cosmology and makes a powerful step toward reviving, modernizing, and extending traditional African knowledge systems.