New Labor Movements is a collection of short films that explore contemporary visions of America and concepts of transnational Blackness. Through a compositional discourse that extends across four hour-long “movements,” the program navigates the philosophical, psychological, and emotional landscapes that manifest in the lives of slavery’s descendants and those living in the aftermath of slavery’s indirect, proximal effects.
Curator Leila Weefur organizes the program to consider the question of “What is America today?” as inspired by Lessons of the Hour, Isaac Julien’s immersive film and photographic exhibition on the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass. Evidenced in the selection of films are thoughtful articulations of movement that reveal the nuance of global political critique and a profound broadness of Black life across borders. The act of movement is a structurally fluid principle that shapes the program and its explorations of film construction and narrative; the distribution of labor and power; the trans-Atlantic movements of goods, capital, and people; and one’s movement through a gallery or in a theater. Taken together with the multi-sensorial, meditative qualities of Lessons, the program engineers a gender diverse, intergenerational dialogue amongst Black filmmakers that explores the creation of cinematic narrative and Black political history.
Just as we are living through an unpredictable emotional landscape, the included films gracefully shift pace, matching the current political unrest with a poetic volatility. Movement I: Assembly presents five films that orient the viewer to linkages between the creation of Diasporic history and collective experience. The program is poignantly introduced by the 16mm black-and-white shots of an African American gospel choir in Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena Harold’s elegiac Hampton (2019). Across three films, Movement II: Resistance/Selfhood identifies realizations of the self within societal narratives of struggle and triumph, acutely seen in Lonnie Holley and Cyrus Moussavi’s metaphor for Black transcendence, I Snuck Off the Slave Ship (2019). Woven throughout the two movements are the visions of Black ancestors, elders, and children, coalescing into a visual guide to reconsider movements as acts of power, liberation, and achievement.
Movement I: Assembly and Movement II: Resistance/Selfhood screen daily at McEvoy Arts in 2020. Movements III and IV premiere in 2021.
Adrien Gystere Peskine
Kevin Jerome Everson
Darol Olu Kae
Eden Tinto Collins
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Leila Weefur (She/They/He) is a trans-gender-nonconforming artist, writer, and curator whose work in video and installation brings together concepts of the sensorial memory, abject Blackness, hyper surveillance, and the erotic. Weefur has worked with local and national institutions including the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Smack Mellon, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and The Wattis Institute, San Francisco. Weefur is a recipient of the Hung Liu award, the Murphy & Cadogan award, and the Walter & Elise Haas Creative Work Fund. They are a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of The Black Aesthetic. Weefur received their MFA from Mills College and is based in Oakland, CA.
New Labor Movements is guest curated by Leila Weefur. The program was commissioned on the occasion of the West Coast premiere of Lessons of the Hour at McEvoy Arts.