In October last year, I travelled to New York to perform a pilgrimage to the places that held a particular romantic fascination for me, having either heard about them in songs or been associated with key moments in popular culture history. I made the journey around the five boroughs, dressed as my quasi-mythical alter-ego, The Barefoot Lone Pilgrim. I started to develop this character as a way to express my cultural confusion, an exaggerated vision of aspects of my personality, a barefoot, long-haired geek in my orange Shaolin Kung-fu uniform (I practice Kung Fu at a Buddhist temple near my house in London), listening to soul and hip-hop on my portable record player.
Through the film, I try to raise the thorny issue of cultural heritage and appropriation, whether my use of Black music, or references to Oriental culture, can ever be a celebration rather than exploitation.
Made in association with Grizedale Arts.