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REconstructing Identity: A Shorts Program

As a way to investigate and work through the oppression that stereotypical images in the media can cast upon people of color, the artists whose short films are featured in this program have re-processed, re-purposed, re-imagined, and re-enacted archival footage from news, entertainment, and educational outlets. For some of these filmmakers, like Ina Archer, it is a way of “[r]econciling the desire to be included in a medium that seems determined and in fact built on exclusion.” Archer’s 2002 short Hattie McDaniel: Or a Credit to the Motion Picture Industry, focuses on the acceptance speech(es) made by Hattie McDaniel (the first African-American to receive an Academy Award), and suggests that the “documentary” footage of her 1939 speech was in fact re-staged. Alternatively, artist Ja’Tovia Gary, whose 2015 An Ecstatic Experience combines footage of Ruby Dee reciting a slave narrative during a 1960s TV broadcast and 1950s footage of Blacks in a rural church, sees her method of manipulating film footage as “a meditative invocation on transcendence as a means of restoration.” By re-making these images as one’s own, the work in this program seeks to both reveal the destructive power of images (and sound) in the media as well as re-construct the identity of those represented.

Films in this Program

Genres: Experimental