This is the first in a series of events that will present dialogues between artists and filmmakers, who engage documentary in forms that evoke the camera (and documentary) as apparatuses of capture. These artists variably produce or reproduce a set of conditions, where subjects might resist, elude or escape capture. The frames of these works are also stretched or extended to situations of liveness.
Stephen Winter’s Jason and Shirley is a narrative film that fills in the blanks of Shirley Clarke’s 1967 documentary Portrait of Jason. Channeling what was lost in the cut, the film reenacts the traditional documentary interview as a form of interrogation and shifts the frame of the interview to point the camera at the other members of the production. In Clarke’s film, she gives Jason the opportunity to tell the story of his experience as a gay black man and largely appropriates it for her own ends. But as Winter’s intervention reveals, Jason ultimately steals away with the film through his performance of refusal.
In her livestream video performances, Amber Hawk Swanson broadcasts acts of transformation for a fetish community of life-size doll owners, sometimes over the course of several days. Though her work directly refers to conditions of captivity, she frees up an intimate space, where the people she interviews are not pinned down. Even as she records them sharing stories about hidden aspects of their identity, they stay in rather than coming out or being outed.
After the artists screen their work, there will be a moderated conversation, accompanied and periodically interrupted by a live feed of video from the simultaneously dystopian and radically utilitarian app, Periscope, which allows users to drop into other people’s livestreams from across the world, broadcasting from any situation from the mundane to matters of life and death.
This series of events emerges from a reading group that has gathered around the work of the late artist, curator, writer, and teacher Ian White. It is presented as part of Mediating the Archive, an interdisciplinary research group that focuses on how archival studies dovetail with the scholarly and artistic legacy of queer activism through visual art, film, digital media, and dance. The group is supported by the Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.