Milli’s Awakening

Milli’s Awakening

Natasha A. Kelly


»Dresden, circa 1910–11. Lying naked on a divan in the studio of painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner is ›Milli‹. The artist delights in capturing her outlines. The result is the painting ›Schlafende Milli‹ (Sleeping Milli, 1911). Kirchner’s eroticizing and exoticizing view of his model is all that remains of ›Milli‹ (if that really was her name). ›Milli‹ is silent, but the painting speaks volumes about how black women have been reduced to anonymous objects of desire. It is one instance in a centuries-long history of black people in Germany.«
– Yvette Mutumba

Natasha A. Kelly takes up the theme of black women seen through the white male gaze and, in an act of self-empowerment, gives a voice to other women – representing, so to speak, »Milli«. In this film, eight Afro-German women of different generations, drawing on the portrait of a woman whose story is still unknown, assume the role of active narrators. Based on key experiences from their own biographies and their artistic work in Germany, the activists and artists relate the numerous forms of racism which they have each had to endure in the past and still endure today.
»The black woman as one of the lowest links in the chain […]. She is everything, she bears everything, she can do everything; she is there for you and all your needs,« recites Maciré Bakayoko in her lyrical text in front of that same Kirchner painting, thereby shifting her position from objectified female to artistic and political actor. (BS)

Film Series New Archives

Preise für ›Millis Erwachen‹
Best documentary Feature – Black Laurel Film Award 2018


Natasha A. Kelly in Kooperation mit Anh Trieu, Henning Fehr und Philipp Rühr


Diana, Maciré, Maseho, Nadu, Naomi, Patricia, Sandrine, Zari


Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art


Natasha A. Kelly

Natasha A. Kelly

Natasha A. Kelly has a PhD in communication studies and sociology with a research focus on colonialism and feminism. Born in the UK and bred in Germany the author, curator and lecturer has taught at numerous universities in Germany and Austria. As research assistant at the Centre for transdisciplinary Gender Studies at Humboldt-University Berlin (2010 – 2013) she dealt with the decoloniality of knowledge, power and beings.