International Changemakers: Unregulated Black Intimacy

Unregulated Black intimacy is a film-based conversation created by Black/afro-feminist artists across borders. In 2021 the artist collective Papaya invited ten artists from different contexts to use films as a common language. Over ten months with the support of the UK City of Culture Trust and the British Council through the International Changemakers Programme, Papaya commissioned and gathered ten films by Black feminist artists and shared Papaya’s creative processes investigating the theme Unregulated Black Intimacy.

This programme is curated by International Changemaker melissandre varin and takes inspiration from Saidya Hartman, Adrienne Maree Brown, and Amahara Spence.

We celebrate the labour and existence of these invited artists whose generous contributions are part of papaya’s artistic research supported by Coventry Biennial, the UK City of Culture Trust.

Join us for Constellation of Blackness, a panel discussion on 21 January, 7pm 

Not anymore by Alexane Ozier Lafontaine

Not anymore is a short movie about women’s attraction toward men. It questions the way society wants heterosexual  women to behave sexually.

About Alexane Ozier Lafontaine

Alexane is a 21 year old activist  (she) from Iouanaceara, a Caribbean island colonized by France. She’s passionate about African and Caribbean history. She’s also passionate about women. She’s known in her country because she took a stand against racist western school systems, by sacrificing a test of her end-of-study exams which was based on the work of a French colonizer.

She’s also a part of a black power movement in her island which aim to decolonize and re humanize places, people, and the collective consciousness.


This Quest of Euphoria by Bebe Melkor

As I lay my feet on the path of existence, I learn that healing is not linear.
I wished so many times for numbness to strike my skull and leave me empty.
This of mine has been granted. Not like a hit on the head, more like gentle caresses on my cheeks, soft kisses on my eyelids.
A finger flicking away a tear rolling down my chin.
Each of these gestures meant to comfort me were also taking away my ability to feel anything.
I remember the time when I could feel everything so deeply.
The time before the over protective inner hands of mine took this gift from me.
Now that life cannot reach me anymore, I have to go on this quest.
One step after the other.
Realising now that I was running away from the very experience of life.
I am tending to the wounds, healing the sufferings that made me make this poor choice.
I don't run anymore.
This quest of euphoria is about getting my tears back.

Capture D'écran by melissandre Varin

Capture D'écran is a film made with  personal footage filmed in 2013 from YunNan, a Chinese province I fell in love with when visiting from ShangHai. Living in China for a year transformed my understanding of cultural formation. When I got pregnant for the first time, I named the foetus after YunNan, tattooed their name on my body following a stillbirth. Across 2020-2021 ‘random’ conversations with Ryan Christopher informed and shaped my ways of making. Ryan encouraged me to write in French, which transformed the text of Papaya quite a lot. There is a floating beauty in this poetic film that deviates from my usual film practice in which I predominantly rely on self-exposure. In this film I speak nearby (Trinh T Minh-ha) us to speak about us/me. Yet another interpretation of what unregulated Black intimacy might be/feel like.

Sanctuary by Navild Acosta

Mirroring the UK City of Culture theme: sanctuary Navild Acosta made a film sharing dreamy vibes of the quotidian, an invitation towards rest and tenderness. Navild is an artist based in Berlin at the time of our exchanges. Navild will also be part of Constellation of Blackness, a panel conversation in January 2022 part of Coventry Biennial supported by Coventry City of Culture and curated by Melissandre Varin.

For now - love, tenderness, and rest

Me and You be Loving Ourselves by Iainaire Aderemi

Relatos de uma rapariga nada púdica by Lolo Arziki

Layer by layer by Jennifer Lopes Santos

Which one am I ? 

Being in a position of always trying to fit in, I developed multiple ways of being, as a defense mechanism. The journey of a chameleon was quite fun, but dangerous because I got lost a few times and even got stuck in some of these characters to please someone else’s fantasy. Today my position has changed. I’m no longer afraid of rejection. Discomfort does not suit me. So I guess it’s time to get rid of those layers.

Goodbye and thank you for the ride !


Couches sur couches
Lequel suis-je?

Étant en positions de toujours essayer de m’intégrer, j’ai développé des manières d’être multiples, comme mécanisme de défense. Le voyage d’un caméléon était assez amusant, mais dangereux parce que je me suis perdue plusieurs fois et je me suis même coincée dans certains de ces personnages pour plaire à quelqu’un d’autre. Aujourd’hui ma position a changé. Je n’ai plus peur du rejet. L’inconfort ne me convient pas. Je suppose donc qu’il est temps de se débarrasser de ces couches.

Au revoir et merci pour la balade !

Jen Lopes Santos

Fetishized by Jennifer Lopes Santos

Wake up call to myself. 

To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. 

But I did have a place there and not the least. 

Of course my opinion didn't matter. 

Yes, it feels cramped and very uncomfortable. To believe that the imposed costume is not  the right size, or even two sizes below. 

But you are not going to complain, because you are the special guest. You are the dessert. 

So, are you still trying to comply? Your thread are intertwined. Fatigue builds up, doesn't it ?  The machine turns and turns. The rhythm is dictated, no chance of being able to tune into it.  Unless you want to leave your melanized skin there. 

Can't you see that you're the exotic fruit at the buffet? 

Filming, editing and acting by Jen Lopes Santos 

Music by Eric G. Foy 

Acting by Steve Verlooy


Sonnette d'alarme à moi-même.  

Pour être honnête, je n'avais aucune idée dans quoi je m'embarquais.  Mais j'y avais bel et bien une place et pas des moindres. 

Bien sûr mon avis n'avait pas d'importance. 

Oui, on s'y sent à l'étroit et très mal à l'aise. À croire que le costume imposé n'est pas à la  bonne taille, voire même deux tailles en dessous.  

Mais tu ne va pas te plaindre, car c'est toi l'invitée surprise. C'est toi le dessert. 

Alors, cherches-tu encore à t'y conformer ? Tes fils s’entremêlent. La fatigue s'accumule,  n'est-ce pas ? La machine tourne et tourne. Le rythme est dicté, aucune chance de pouvoir  s'y accorder. À moins que tu ne veuilles y laisser ta peau mélanisée. 

Ne vois-tu donc pas que c'est toi le fruit exotique au buffet ? 

les mains de ma mère/ my mother’s hands by melissandre varin


My mother's hands have been transformed by Rheumatoid arthritis. My existence has been de-limited by the white gaze. In this short film I interrogate my conflictual relationship to authority, the Black mother figure, and whiteness as a destitution of power. 

Filmed and assembled from a place of gratitude, this film is punctuated by 'to be you' a poem written in 2019 for papaya. The tension between current and former/ individual and collective selves is palpable. 

COVID-19 pandemic marked a physical rupture with hostile environments I used to performed in. I spent time with my hands thinking about intergenerational trauma, grief, and healing. My mother transitioned to another form 17years ago and I am now visioning ways to critically celebrate her passage on this Earth. 

Sourcing love by any means necessary, I am sharing this film as a mothering gesture, an offering to myself and all of us.

love languageS by melissandre varin

Commissioned by Apples and Snakes

Remoteness, (absence of) language, and the quotidian as elements inscribed in Afro and Caribbean diasporic contexts are investigated in this short film. The fractal assemblage of personal archives with poetry emerging from conversation with significant others is an invitation to think about food, land, and racial justice with love.