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REEL: AXIS, NOT POLES

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Date: 
Thursday, 10 March 2022 to Saturday, 2 April 2022

REEL: AXIS, NOT POLES

Exhibition: 10th March - 2nd April

Open Thurs - Sat, 11am - 6pm

 

S*AN D. HENRY-SMITH

CHE APPLEWHAITE

KADEEM OAK

KONDO HELLER

DITA HASHI

 

“One of the limitations of mainstream theory and criticism has been its tendency to see the cinematic movements as tied to one of two poles: dominant (Hollywood) and oppositional (reactive) cinema…[black independent cinema] must be understood as more than a reactive pole–but rather as the development of new, emergent tendencies which are more difficult to categorise in established norms. Oppositional filmmaking is, in and of itself, not an axis; rather it is one of two opposite poles…Working within the debris of culture and discourse, black independent cinema moves not in between the two opposing poles but around it towards its own axis. Here the authority of the margins is born, in those blind spaces where the hierarchy of oppositions do not hold complete sway, where language confounds itself, and where liberated culture resides. In those liberated spaces outside of Hollywood and oppositional cinema, a new, newly born cinema is emerging, a cinema not-yet-here but no-longer-there, a travelling cinema–nomadic cinema.” 

– Teshome Gabriel (1988) ‘Thoughts On Nomadic Aesthetics And The Black Independent Cinema: Traces of a Journey’

 

REEL: AXIS, NOT POLES is a screening programme of experimental moving image shorts by contemporary Black artists from across the diaspora. Curated by Languid Hands to reactivate the gallery space in the lead up to the end of their fellowship, five works by Che Applewhaite, Dita Hashi, Kondo Heller, S*an D. Henry Smith and Kadeem Oak will be presented in a looped reel every Thursday to Saturday for four weeks. 

This selection of films is inspired by Teshome Gabriel’s notion of Black independent film moving towards its own axis, beyond and around the binary poles of dominant and oppositional culture. These artists create work that is not purely reactive to cultures of oppression, nor hindered by the burden of visual representation, instead the works operate within their own set of references, with distinct approaches to visual, sonic and textual language, moving towards a liberated culture of art-making. 

 

WORKS FEATURED:

S*AN D. HENRY-SMITH - LUNAR NEW YEAR 

(20 mins)

Lunar New Year (2021) is a new short film by Henry-Smith, presented here for the first time. The film revisits the unraveling of a midwinter’s day in New York City. Summoning the presence of friends and collaborators on film and in spirit, Henry-Smith shifts effortlessly between sonic and visual languages in their work––at times drawing from elements of modern portraiture and slice-of-life documentation. Here in their first filmic foray, the functions of narrative, descriptive, and poetic texts blur, inviting to mind the formal experiments of Bernadette Mayer, William Greaves, and James Benning, among others.

“& so Lunar New Year is a durational effort, a sequence of 4 digital, 13 analog vertically oriented portraits, all made handheld with found and available light, presented in order of exposures taken. The series (swallows hard, accepts its truth) is a record in collaboration with those that allowed me to be in space with them, creating quiet encounters in the polyphonic city. Not all is pictured, not all are pictured, just what & who was made available through any number of very specific & amorphous conditions & agreements on this day. A study of the transformative power of light moving through space, & a sincere awe in the ability to render that still, & (as the Meshell Ndegeocello song says) yet it moves, offering the cinema of the everyday, offering description as narrative, operating in the multisensory—text, image, voice, my primary mediums, previously presented in the book, now in cinema, still the book: all efforts in dedicated sequencing.”

––S*an D. Henry-Smith

Edited by Zack Khalil.

 

CHE APPLEWHAITE - A NEW ENGLAND DOCUMENT 

(16 mins)

Using found footage with selected images and text from The Marshall Collection at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, A New England Document reconstructs the genocidal impulses of two ethnographers’ photographic encounters in the Kalahari Desert, Namibia, from the perspective of its suppressed stories. The filmmaker, a black international student at Harvard, and their daughter, New-York-Times-bestselling writer Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, give voice in fragmentary counterpoint upon sounds of archival ghosts. The film asks, after an Indigenous boy named /Gaishay, what would he have said about the Marshalls if he studied them too?

Filmed on location in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Peterborough, New Hampshire. Distributed by Canyon Cinema.

 

KADEEM OAK - BRIXTON LIFT 

(4 mins)

Brixton Lift constructs visual compositions that interweave sound and painterly expressions. Drawing on a poetic, structuralist visual language while documenting a lively urban environment. The camera moves inquisitively through various social and physical terrains, namely Atlantic Road, Brixton during the now discontinued/shutdown Brixton Splash music festival, an annual street party which took place from (2006-15) in celebration of Jamaican Independence Day and Brixton’s (increasingly marginalised) Afro-Caribbean community and culture. Brixton Lift gives importance to the corporal behaviours of groups and gatherings, considers the overgrown and the controlled/marginalised environment while exploring the material and illustrative potential of 16mm film and filmmaking as a social document. Brixton Lift was created at the artist's worker's cooperative Not/Nowhere formally No.w.here Bethnal Green. 

The film forms part of Kadeem’s ongoing work in exploring sites of Black British cultural heritage and how that intersects with the geology of specific locations - As a continuation of Brixton Lift, Kadeem is currently working on a film called Effra Creek! Effra Wash! Effra Splash! (2022) which screens as part of the ICA's Image Behaviour film programme on the 19th March. The film traces the River Effra, a lost open tributary of the river Thames which ran from Upper Norwood (through Brixton) and towards Vauxhall. Documenting the cultural artifacts, communities and topography that surrounded the Effra. Filming the geology of the lost river and the social ebbs and flows of the site above ground in tandem. 

 

KONDO HELLER - MU/T/T/ER 

(17 mins)

MU/T/T/ER is a film that focuses on the utterances of different rooms in a house, this is done through heard poetry by Nikki Giovanni, May Ayim, NourbeSe. M. Philip, Lucille Clifton and Audre Lorde, in recipe sharing, memory, shadows and sounds. Each room has a message in a  language that is heard everywhere but only understood for whom the message is for, just like the Leso. The film looks at language and how to articulate with a tongue that breaks words or has had to twist. This is narrated through sound/the movement of light and what the room has experienced/witnessed/heard through its windows, therefore, advising its current inhabitant.

 

DITA HASHI - SAMRAA 

(14 mins)

SAMRAA is the grammatically singular, feminine form of the root 'asmar', the Arabic word for a contested shade of brown.  The term is both a descriptor and a racial designation burdened with historical and social meanings. Often used as a blunt instrument of political correctness, SAMRAA is the feminine figure distanced from the negative associations which cling to Blackness across the Arab world. 

SAMRAA is an experimental moving image work which explores this term as a site of both enclosure and endearment. Dita Hashi slices up Arabic pop music videos, live performances and archival footage across space and time, producing a new dissonant soundtrack made up of linguistic reiterations and derivatives. Engaging with the provocations of scholar-critic Hortense Spillers and the poetry of Muhammad al-Fayturi and partly shot on the coast of the Arabian Gulf by essayist, poet, and the film’s creative adviser Momtaza Mehri, SAMRAA elaborates these chromatics of domination. It restages this space of sanitization and disavowal, one which catches the Black woman subject in its tangled net.

Total screening run time: 71 mins

 

 

BIOS

S*an D. Henry-Smith is an artist and writer working primarily in poetry, photography, performance, and publishing, engaging Black experimentalisms and collaborative practices across (and against) discipline. As mouthfeel, they collaborate with Imani Elizabeth Jackson, meditating on Black food, ecology, and ephemeral practices. Henry-Smith’s debut collection of poems and photographs, Wild Peach (2020), was published by Futurepoem in fall of last year and shortlisted for the PEN Open Book Award. “in awe of geometry & mornings” (2021), exhibited at White Columns this winter, brought to scale photographs from the book alongside a series of readings and conversations programmed with their collaborators. Lunar New Year (2021) is their first film.

Che Applewhaite is an artist, filmmaker, writer and organizer. He facilitates critical engagement with ongoing histories by remaking the specific forms that displace us.His student short film, A New England Document (Sheffield Doc/Fest 2020), screened at international film festivals and conferences in the USA, UK and Germany, and won the BestEmerging Artist jury award at Mimesis Documentary Festival at the University of ColoradoBoulder. He has written for outlets including Harvard Magazine, Open City DocumentaryFestival, and Millennium Film Journal, and was a 2021 Seminar Fellow of InternationaleKurzfilmtage Oberhausen. He is from London and Trinidad & Tobago, and received a B.A. from Harvard University.

Kadeem Oak is an artist and filmmaker based in London; his work is concerned with the vernacular and reconfiguration of artist's moving image, storytelling and experimental documentation. Examining the ways in which we share and articulate a sense of place through time, locality, sound and ecology while exploring new perspectives on Black British identity and a diasporic heritage today. Kadeem was recently the recipient of the ICA Image Behaviour 2022 production grant which will culminate in a presentation of a new film installation at the ICA this springtime.

Kondo Heller is a poet. They approach the filmmaking process as a poet. In their films, they layer and unfurl to articulate memory, resonance, and language. They are particularly interested in Static as a portal of recollection, communion, and archive. Their latest film MU/T/T/ER was selected and screened at the Berlinale Expanded Forum Programme 2022. Elsewhere, they are a Barbican Young Poet 18/19, an Obsidian Foundation fellow, and Ledbury Critic.

 

Image: Dita Hashi (b. 1998) is an artist worker based between London and Paris. She works across moving image, installation and writing.

Curator :

Telephone: 
07813823095
Venue ( Address ): 

8 Angel Mews
London
N1 9HH

Cubitt , London

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