Kibwe Tavares’ Robots Of Brixton – The death of Mark Duggan was a tragic one. Duggan, a man of 29 years, died in police custody in Tottenham, London, England, from a gunshot wound to the chest. As a result of this incident, a massive public demonstration lead to an attack on businesses, and police vehicles that began the London riots in early August of this year. What started out as a peaceful protest, escalated into widespread looting, arson, and riots in London, then on into the major cities throughout London–thus labeled the ‘2011 UK anti-austerity protests.’ In a flash, buildings burned, innocent people were injured, and over 1,000 were placed in police custody as a result.
“Police action was blamed for the initial riot, and the subsequent police reaction was criticized as being neither appropriate nor sufficiently effective. The riots have generated significant ongoing debate among political, social and academic figures about the causes and context in which they happened”
In reflection, the Brixton Riots of April 11, 1981, one of the worse urban riots in London’s history–is remembered as the ‘Bloody Saturday’ and the summer of discontent. Considering the socioeconomic problems and racial tension of the time–the African-Caribbean community suffered high unemployment, poor housing, and as a result of this social degradation, a higher than average crime rate. In 1981, the world stood and watched in horror as people–mankind–warred with one another. Later, after an attempt to rectify the problems (racial disadvantage; inner-city decline) that caused the 1981 riots failed, London faced the riots of 1985; involving the police and the socioeconomically disadvantaged of Brixton. But what the 2011 riots does not explain–inappropriate civil reaction, and civil unrest. Many were opportunists and began looting and burning for no reason. Hundreds of businesses were burned and damaged as a result. Violence is never justifiable– just as politically motivated, societal neglect is never justifiable. The London riots of this year and the short-film Robots of Brixton reflect a similar set of societal circumstances that caused the 2011 riots.
In the short film Robots of Brixton is the Brixton riots re-imagined. In the film, Robots were created as a slave workforce–employed to do the jobs that humans no longer wished to do. Within this robotic world, intermingled with human society, are depictions of the of neglected robot neighborhoods. Paired with police aggression fueled the riot between robot-police and civilian robots.
Robots of Brixton is a brilliant recreation of geometric and architecturally designed robot slum world. The film is visually striking and acute detail in animation–and ultimately, the powerful message the film emanates. The animation stills overlay actual photography from the Brixton riots and is narrated from the perspective of a single robot–the poor and disadvantaged; the rich and powerful. This film challenges its viewers to engage their minds and take notice of this robot society is not too dissimilar from our own.
“The film follows the trials and tribulations of young robots surviving at the sharp end of inner city life, living the predictable existence of a populous hemmed in by poverty, disillusionment, and mass unemployment. When the Police invades the one space that the robots can call their own, the fierce and strained relationship between the two sides explodes into an outbreak of violence echoing that of 1981.” — Kibwe Tavares
‘History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, second as farce’ Karl Marx
- Kibwe Tavares – Direction, animation, modeling, lighting, texturing
- David Hoffman – Photographer Brixton riots
- Mourad Bennacer – Sound Designer
- DJ Hiatus “The Great Insurrection” – Music