NEW LABOR MOVEMENTS
Contemporary filmmakers explore acts of movement as a profound catalyst for societal and individual change in American and Black life. A presentation of the
McEvoy Foundation for the Arts
Thursday, November 26 – Sunday, November 29, 2020; 8am–11:59pm
New Labor Movements is a collection of short films that explore contemporary visions of America and concepts of transnational Blackness. Through a compositional discourse that extends across four hour-long “movements,” the program navigates the philosophical, psychological, and emotional landscapes that manifest in the lives of slavery’s descendants and those living in the aftermath of slavery’s indirect, proximal effects.
Curator Leila Weefur organizes the program to consider the question of “What is America today?” as inspired by Lessons of the Hour, Isaac Julien’s immersive film and photographic exhibition on the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass. Evidenced in the selection of films are thoughtful articulations of movement that reveal the nuance of global political critique and a profound broadness of Black life across borders. The act of movement is a structurally fluid principle that shapes the program and its explorations of film construction and narrative; the distribution of labor and power; the trans-Atlantic movements of goods, capital, and people; and one’s movement through a gallery or in a theater. Taken together with the multi-sensorial, meditative qualities of Lessons, the program engineers a gender diverse, intergenerational dialogue amongst Black filmmakers that explores the creation of cinematic narrative and Black political history.
Just as we are living through an unpredictable emotional landscape, the included films gracefully shift pace, matching the current political unrest with a poetic volatility. Movement I: Assembly presents five films that orient the viewer to linkages between the creation of Diasporic history and collective experience. The program is poignantly introduced by the 16mm black-and-white shots of an African American gospel choir in Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena Harold’s elegiac Hampton (2019). Across three films, Movement II: Resistance/Selfhood identifies realizations of the self within societal narratives of struggle and triumph, acutely seen in Lonnie Holley and Cyrus Moussavi’s metaphor for Black transcendence, I Snuck Off the Slave Ship (2019). Woven throughout the two movements are the visions of Black ancestors, elders, and children, coalescing into a visual guide to reconsider movements as acts of power, liberation, and achievement.
Movement I: Assembly and Movement II: Resistance/Selfhood screen daily at McEvoy Arts in 2020. Movements III and IV premiere in 2021.
Price: $5–20 sliding scale rental fee (50% of proceeds support The Roxie Theater)
RUNNING ORDER OF SHORTS:
Total Running Time: 78 minutes
All film descriptions written by Curator, Leila Weefur
Civil War Surveillance Poems (Part 1), 2019
Digital video, color, sound, 14:57 min.
The first installment of a five-part project, Civil War Surveillance Poems is an assemblage of voices and perspectives scattered across the American landscape. With a sincerely hybrid approach, Mitch McCabe stitches together over 20 years of archival vérité footage with audio clips from radio, all seen and heard during cross-country road trips. The colorful spatterings of American accents, from Christian radio to sex worker narratives, come together to contemplate the coming of a second Civil War.
16mm transferred to digital, color, sound, 4 min.
The hand-cranking of a Bolex camera and the honeyed vibrato of Zora Neal Hurston are the dancers in this archival choreography of collected and repurposed cinematic materials. Hurston’s retelling of her anthropological practice is channeled through a well-practiced lip-synching performer, delivering folk songs over a flickering video loop of Maasai tribesmen and an assortment of women. Christopher Harris briefly casts the viewer deep into a moment of historical hybridity.
Specialised Technique, 2018
HD video, black-and-white, sound, 6:57 min.
“Pulse, pulse, pulse…” A voice, a drum, a cadence of contrast is used by Onyeka Igwe to conjure the “livingness” present in the archival documentation of Black dance. Consecutive questions that appear as mere title cards, words adorning the edges of a body, or as an independent character in the frame are all self-reflexive exchanges between the director, the subjects, and the audience. “Do you not want me to see your face?” is a question steeped in self-awareness and the issue of the spectacle ever-present in colonial cinema.
Lonnie Holley, Cyrus Moussavi
I Snuck Off the Slave Ship, 2019 Digital video, color, sound, 18:44 min.
I Snuck Off the Slave Ship is an invitation to become an accompanying passenger on this time-defying journey of rebellion in the name of healing. An African American multimedia artist traverses land, artistic format, and dimension in order to escape the slave ship that is America.
16mm transferred to digital, black-and-white, color, sound, 28 min.
South collapses the realities of South London and Chicago’s South Side—two places separated by thousands of miles of land and sea. Through the kinetic potency of individual and collective voice combined with Black and White portraits of people and place, Quaintance reveals the parallels of the liberation movements in defiance of geography. Quaintance’s personal biography—he was born in London and is a frequent visitor to Chicago—necessitates a closeness to his subjects that enables audiences to contend with the root concerns of humanity and mortality.
Eden Tinto Collins, Adrien Gystere Peskine
Digital video, color, sound, 5:25 min.
Existing somewhere on Earth, Jane Dark is a seemingly normal person who, when called upon, transforms into the Super Shero WOMXN to protect the community from the villainous police. Directors Eden Tinto Collins and Adrien Gystere Peskine remind us of the supernatural superhero qualities of Black womxn and their community allies in this tale of vigilance.
*ABOUT THE CURATOR:
Leila Weefur (She/They/He) is a trans-gender-nonconforming artist, writer, and curator whose work in video and installation brings together concepts of the sensorial memory, abject Blackness, hyper surveillance, and the erotic. Weefur has worked with local and national institutions including the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Smack Mellon, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and The Wattis Institute, San Francisco. Weefur is a recipient of the Hung Liu award, the Murphy & Cadogan award, and the Walter & Elise Haas Creative Work Fund. They are a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of The Black Aesthetic. Weefur received their MFA from Mills College and is based in Oakland, CA.