T H E  U N S E E N  F E S T I V A L

Black Radical Imagination

Join us on Thursday, September 28, 7:30pm for Program 8 of the Unseen Festival: Black Radical Imagination. Black Radical Imagination is a touring program of experimental short films emphasizing new stories from within the African diaspora. The series builds on afrofuturist, afrosurrealist, and magical realist aesthetics to interrogate identity in the context of cinema. Curated by Erin Cristovale and Amir George. Filmmakers in person: Christopher Harris and curator Amir George. Preceded by a reading curated by Steven Dunn, featuring Alexandra Jackson and Trent Hudley.

Film 1

In A Feeling Like Chaos, Suné Woods collaborates with several performers to create three archetypal personas—Conjurer, Guerrilla, Sage—who transmit knowledge, sensuality, language, joy, the pleasure of the body, the journey to healing, walking sometimes together and other times alone through dream-like landscapes with a refrain repeating in Spanish, French, and English: “I am not afraid.” Video. Color/Sound. 2015.

Suné Woods is an artist living in Los Angeles. Her work takes the form of multi-channel video installations, photographs, and collage. Woods’ practice examines absences and vulnerabilities within cultural and social histories. She also uses microsomal sites such as family to understand larger sociological phenomenon, imperialist mechanisms, & formations of knowledge. She is interested in how language is emoted, guarded, and translated through the absence/presence of a physical body. She has participated in residencies at Headlands Center of the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and The Center for Photography at Woodstock. She was in residence at Light Work in 2016. Woods is a recipient of the Visions from the New California initiative.

 

 

 

 

Film 2

a love letter to death. Elijah by Mahalia Jackson was playing in the studio and I slipped into a trance, the only goal was ‘becoming.’ When a possum is under threat it plays dead to avoid death. The space in the studio became a world I felt close to, I was underwater on the moon. In composing the video during the editing process, I composed a score for the first two-thirds but used American composer, Jon Forshee’s score “Sinew” as the structure to edit the video, which appears in the last third of the video, where the exploration is the spatialization of sound. I wanted to create an atmosphere in the video that appeared to be like the changes in ambient pressure, like what happens to a body that slips into the cold airless void—when the human body is suddenly exposed to the vacuum of space or deep water—sudden depressurization. Video. Color/Sound. 2015. 10 mins.

Jamilah Sabur was born in Saint Andrew Parish, Jamaica and lives and works in Miami. Sabur received her BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2009 and an MFA from University of California San Diego in 2014. Recent exhibition and screening venues include REDCAT, Los Angeles; MoMAPS1, NY; Armory Art Center, Palm Beach; and HistoryMiami Museum.

 

 

 

Film 3

A performer lip-synchs to archival audio featuring the voice of author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston as she describes her method of documenting African American folk songs in Florida. By design, nothing in this film is authentic except the source audio. The flickering images were produced with a hand-cranked Bolex so that the lip-synch is deliberately erratic and the rear projected, grainy. Looped images of Masai tribesmen and women recycled from an educational film become increasingly abstract as the audio transforms into an incantation. Watch a trailer. Video. Color/Sound. 2015. 4 mins.

Christopher Harris was awarded a 2015 Creative Capital grant in support of his film Speaking in Tongues. His work has screened at festivals, museums and cinematheques throughout North America and Europe including the 2014 Artists’ Film Biennial at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the International Film Festival Rotterdam (2005, 2008, 2010), the VIENNALE-Vienna International Film Festival, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Leeds International Film Festival (2007, 2009), the San Francisco Cinematheque, and Rencontres Internationales Paris, among many others. “Cosmologies of Black Cultural Production: A Conversation with Afro-Surrealist Filmmaker Christopher Harris” was published in the summer 2016 issue of Film Quarterly.

 

Film 4

The title of this work, Falling to get here, is based on the idea of the asymptote. The description of a curve, a line whose distance from that curve gets closer and closer to zero as it tends to infinity. Asymptote is also articulated as a not falling together. Woods is interested both in the intensity of this interplay between (absolute) nearness and (untraversable) distance and in what is entailed in the tendency to infinity. These are fruitful terms for the investigation of intimacy, which is a matter of concern not only in what the video represents—the joy and pain of black relation; the political and economic pressure that renders such relation impossible; the miracle of the persistence of such relation in the face of impossibility—but also in the form and practice of representation. Woods is concerned with how sound and image (don’t) go together and with how sounds and images, each in their own realm, are already infused with this (not) going together. To the extent that this whole problematic of going together is Woods’ object and her aim, and is, more generally, our object and our aim, she offers Falling to get here as a contribution to the making and practice of a big, black, experimental band. Writer Fred Moten has made some text and sounds that, rather than functioning as commentary to the video from outside of it, has been been integrated by Woods as a kind of artistic and critical accompaniment in, and sometimes out of, sync with her images. Video. Color/Sound. 2015.

 

 

Film 5

Reckless Eyeballing, Christopher Harris, 16mm, 2004, 14 min. Taking its name from the Jim Crow-era prohibition against black men looking at white women, this hand processed, optically printed amalgam is a hypnotic inspection of sexual desire, racial identity, and film history.

 

 

Readers and Reading Curator

 

Alexandra Jackson is a recent graduate from the University of Denver with degrees in psychology and creative writing. She holds distinction in creative writing for her creative poetry senior thesis titled, “Angels in my Living Room.” While completing her senior year of college she simultaneously began her first year in the Masters of Social work program through The University of Denver. In between writing and school she interned with the Aurora non-profit, Colfax Community Network, servicing individuals experiencing housing crises in motels on Colfax and in the area. This upcoming year she will be interning in the housing and urban development section at the Veterans Affair Hospital advocating to remove housing barriers faced by Veterans experiencing homelessness. She hopes to bridge her Masters of Social work experiences with her passion of creative writing to increase self-expression and self-esteem while breaking down systematic barriers for marginalized communities.

 

Trent Hudley is a professor of English. He teaches in the Creative Writing M.A. Program at Regis University; he also teaches at Metropolitan State University, and the Community College of Denver. He earned his B.A. from Metropolitan State University and his M.F.A. from the University of Texas at El Paso. He was raised in Denver, Colorado and before he entered the world of academia he held a multitude of positions including working in the Denver Post Sports Room, janitor, kitchen manager, painter, cashier and a multitude of other similar jobs. He still lives in Denver in the company of his friends, and family.

 

Steven Dunn is the author of the novel Potted Meat (Tarpaulin Sky, 2016). He was born and raised in West Virginia. Some of his work can be found in Columbia Journal and Granta Magazine. His second novel water & power is forthcoming from Tarpaulin Sky in Fall 2018.

 
 

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