@BrianHowe-- Thank you SO MUCH. I had seen that she was part of the Philip Glass program, but for some reason I thought she wasn't going to be there in person.
This makes me think of The America Divided screening at the Hayti back in October. Reverend Dr. Barber opened the discussion after the episode played. Panel members included activists and community leaders from Mitchell County, who were also in the documentary. I highly recommend watching because it presents difficult issues in a straightforward manner while also reminding viewers we have plenty of room for agency and hope. Political documentaries so often take up a hysterical doomsday tone, relying too heavily on fear as a motivator. And then it's easy for audiences to feel overwhelmed and depressed... Oh yeah, bonus! Zach Galifianakis leads the NC episodes. You can watch on Amazon and Hulu, and one episode is up on YouTube. Also, the series site provides steps for how to host a FREE community or school screening. https://americadividedseries.com/democracy…
but i'm not gonna lie, that incessant trailer gets me every time... smh.
I mean, if "they" includes "world-renowned futurists, philosophers and visionary artists" I think we can be pretty hopeful about what will unfold under the 2017 themes. Super bummed I missed Laurie Anderson last year. She never fails to bring incisive perspectives on current issues home, like in a visceral sense.
We'd be hard pressed to find a free local weekly with film reviews this poetic. Your writers translate complex ideas that could easily alienate an audience into accessible and engaging prose. While I'm definitely enticed to "question everything [I] took for granted about the relationship between victim and victimizer" without the aid of an "easy moral critique," I'm also pretty darn satisfied by the review alone.
I'm not a theatergoer, so it was off my usual path to see this production. The small/ mighty cast approached a timely and delicate theme with feverish energy and grace. They delivered Virginia Woolf's sense of humor intact while also making it their own. I was entirely transfixed, barely realizing the time that had passed. The physical space, which flanked the aisle stage with rows of seating, created a productive discomfort for me; when the actors were faced away from my side of the theater, watching the audience watching on the other side became natural and necessary for gathering information about what was happening on stage. Unforgettably creative on every level. (I would've been happy just sitting among the metalwork.) Maybe I'll become a theatergoer after all...
I'd rather the creator (and featured artists) had "tinkered" their way through something else: how to *critically* represent-- rather than reiterate--systemic racism. While the video certainly is "haunting" and "odd," contextualizing this work within further complacent adjectives as "quirky" spooks me almost more than the conspicuous absence of any intended criticality around racism. (There's much more to what's going on and needs to be addressed around race in Durham than our quirkiness, especially at the current moment). So, should we congratulate Nick Sanborn for "taking the opportunity" to literally silence Black voices and co-opt hip-hop and rap platforms for his own artistic purposes? What WERE his artistic intentions in creating this video? James Grebey of Spin Magazine quotes Sanborn as saying "Once I fixated on the idea of making a silent rap video, it kinda haunted me...Ironically, it ended up saying so much.” So, first he was 'fixated,' which to me suggests his original intention arose outside of any rational examination despite the world we live in. Did he just run with that, not stopping for a moment to think about the implications, about WHY he was fixated, or HOW that fixation might be problematic in and of itself? Second, it 'kinda' haunted him? If he's going to take credit for the powerful message--which, if we read it as critical, appears to be at best tentative and accidental-- I want to know that he is more than just 'kinda' haunted. Third, if the video 'ended up' 'striking' him as 'ironic,' am I to understand he didn't really consider intention until after the fact? I'd like to think that every object exerts an equal but opposite force on its maker; here, however, the most meaningful force by far seems to be that which the music video exerted on its maker. That's all fine and good, but it means anything to be appreciated about this music video lies solely outside of the artist. Instead, we can acknowledge the power of even passive reflections to highlight our own problematic impulses. We can acknowledge the power of participatory viewing by recognizing that "Side Rides" reproduces a problematic view *unless* the viewer accepts the burden of criticality--that should IMO belong to the (responsible) artist-- and troubles the video's position. Despite my deep misgivings about Side Rides, I hope that Mr. Sanborn, collaborators, and those who have written about the video are actually more aware and thoughtful than they sound. I agree, this video "[says] so much." But I'm not satisfied with that answer until we hear more from Mr. Sanborn about exactly what he meant to say, what he thinks he ended up saying, and why we should listen rather than shake our heads at a case of unintentional hipster racism. So far, I'm not convinced it says anything new...and I certainly can't locate the irony.
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