OMOS is a moving image and performance project that pays homage to the history of Black people featuring in performances in the 16th century royal court, and celebrates Black performance today. By Rhys Hollis with Andrea Baker, Divine Tasinda, Kheanna Walker. Produced by Pollyanna.
Kriitinen Gallery, Turku, Finland, 2 August - 28 August 2024
KINDL Centre for Contemporary Art, Berlin, 5 March - 30 July 2023
Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, 24-26 March 2023,
Stirling Castle, Stirling, 1 October - 7 December 2022,
Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 3 September - 2 October 2022,
Dunoon Burgh Hall, Dunoon, 25 March - 24 April 2022
Boomtown Film & Music Festival, Texas, USA, February 2024
Multiplié Dance Film, Trondheim, Norway, January 2024
Rencontres Internationales, Paris, France, October - November 2023
Leeds International Film Festival, Leeds, UK, November 2023
Aesthetica Short Film Festival, York, UK, November 2023
Narrar el Futuro: Festival of Film & New Media, Cinemateca de Bogotá, Colombia, September 2023
Atlanta Black Pride LGBTQ International Film Festival, USA, September 2023
Joint solo screening at Festival ECRÃ at Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 2023
Opening Film at Glasgow Short Film Festival at Glasgow Film Theatre, UK, March 2023
Shades: Queer Black Cabaret at:
SchwuZ with KINDL Centre for Contemporary Art, July 2023
Fruitmarket, October 2022
Macrobert Arts Centre, October 2022
OMOS (2022) by Rhys Hollis, Andrea Baker, Divine Tasinda, Kheanna Walker
Directed by Rhys Hollis. Produced by Pollyanna
OMOS is a moving image and performance project that pays homage to the history of Black people featuring in performances in the 16th century royal court, and celebrates Black performance today. OMOS is filmed in Puck’s Glen and Stirling Castle and created collaboratively by a group of award-winning artists; cabaret performer Rhys Hollis (also known as Rhys’ Pieces), mezzo soprano Andrea Baker, dancer Divine Tasinda and pole artist Kheanna Walker. The film partly follows the format of queer cabaret and each artist has used their unique perspective to create a solo performance for the film.
OMOS is inspired by connections between Puck’s Glen, Stirling Castle and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is also connected to a historical performance given to King James VI of Scotland. At Stirling Castle in 1594, a feared lion was replaced by an unnamed Black man, who pulled a chariot through the castle’s Great Hall. He was one of a number of Black people who appeared in performances at the Scottish court throughout Scottish history. This film is an homage to those people and a celebration of Black performance in Scotland today.
The name OMOS was originally an acronym for the phrase ‘O monstrous! O strange!’, a quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As the project developed, this phrase has been morphed to stand for ‘Our Movement, Our Stories’. The film has an ambiguous title of solely OMOS.
In OMOS, the artists occupy space as they both draw on the past and look to the future.
OMOS is produced by Pollyanna and funded by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland. It is also funded by City of Edinburgh Council, People’s Postcode Trust and Historic Environment Scotland. Partners include Historic Environment Scotland, Forestry and Land Scotland, Dunoon Burgh Hall, Royal Scottish Academy, Cultural Heritage and Arts Assembly Argyll & Isles (CHARTS), Argyll & Bute Council, the Fruitmarket, Scene Stirling and Transmission. The workshops in Edinburgh and storytelling cabaret have been supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players. Workshops are also supported by Goethe Institut Glasgow.
Image at top: OMOS at KINDL Centre for Contemporary Art 2023, photo: Jens Ziehe
Produced by Pollyanna
in order of appearance
Director of Photography
Truffle Pig Wigs
Composition by Xana. With performance by Andrea Baker.
Divine's performance music
Composition by, lyrics by, performed by and courtesy of Xana.
Kheanna's performance music
Composition by Xana; Lyrics by and performed by Kheanna Walker;
Courtesy of Xana, Kheanna Walker.
Lyrics by Rhys Hollis with adaptations by Xana; Composition by Aidan Teplitzky;
Performed by Andrea Baker; Courtesy of Rhys Hollis, Aidan Teplitzky.
All photos copyright Washington Gwande / Pollyanna
From top down
L-R: Divine Tasinda, Rhys Hollis, Andrea Baker and Kheanna Walker