The Museum of Contemporary Art opened its Edlis Neeson Theater to the touring program Black Radical Imagination this week. Black Radical Imagination showcases experimental visual shorts by artists who claim their own story while continuing the conversation of the cinematic obstacles that people of color have been and still are experiencing.
Four film shorts were featured at MCA’s screening event that was curated by Amir George.
The digital video The Golden Chain, directed by Ezra Clayton Daniels and Adebukola Bodunrin, is set in a Nigerian space station in a remote area within the galaxy orbits. Placed in the future Daniels and Adebukola explore the re-creation of the universe through the main character Yetunde.
Florida Water directed by Numa Perrier is a beautifully orchestrated nonlinear short film. Through silence Perrier explores ritual, who carries rituals and how they are passed on. Perrier used her own daughter in the film; she stated that her daughter’s performance in many ways echoed her own curiosity about her own mother and her cultural background. Perrier used silence and striking imagery to weave together the ritual of re-creating her own memories.
Michelle Pearson Clarke’s All That is Left Unsaid will have you holding your breath as you watch the creatively talented, black, lesbian, feminist poet (to say the least) Audre Lorde in an explorative 2.5 minute film of complete utterances. Clarke eloquently ties in rhythm, repetition, and dance-like qualities in this montage series. In the post Q&A, Clarke explains that what Audre Lorde never got the chance to say, due to her death after battling cancer for many years, is an ongoing loss. All That is Left Unsaid will have viewers questioning what burning conversation is within them that needs to be expressed and what they think Audre Lorde would have to say about the current state of African American people in America today. This personally driven short is a must watch for any Audre Lorde admirer.
The 2014 short film that took my breath away and closed the film screening was Vow of Silence directed by Be Steadwell. This musically driven 28-minute film focuses on the concept of silence and communicating without words. Viewers quickly learn that the main character Jade made a vow to be silent in order to win back her true love. Jade encounters a humorous and charming musician who in the end reconnects her with her voice and the only two words we hear Jade speak in the whole film. The chemistry between Jade and her love interest is compelling to watch on screen. Steadwell beautifully illustrates the power of simplicity and subtext within a film and truthful storytelling in Vow of Silence.
Black Radical Imagination showcased short films that embraced the afrofuturist and afrosurrealist aesthetic through their storytelling. Intertwining their own personal experiences, Daniels and Bodunrin, Clarke, Perrier and Steadwell bravely spoke their own truth through the context of film.
The program by Black Radical Imagination was a one-night only event at the Museum of Contemporary Art. You can find more information about Black Radical Imagination through their website and see where and what they will be programming next.