“Our rights to desire, to freely inhabit our bodies and to exist without discrimination based on origin or (access to) assets have all been hard won, and often alongside the work and creative expression of artists. With the knowledge that artists reflect their time in the ways they record, perceive and create, during my residency at Vtape I have been studying the ethical and political struggles of the past through film, video and critical texts in the holdings. I have been searching with particular attention to the development of black film and video practices to locate where, and how, our efforts in art and activism have led to social change. I ask: what are the concerns of a new generation of emerging racialized artists? In what ways do their questions parallel those of the 70s, 80s and 90s?
This project will undertake these larger questions through careful attention to several bodies of work and pieces of critical writing. I begin with personal interviews with filmmakers and activists represented in the holdings to give me truthful historical contexts with regards to aesthetics and political activism around race, sexuality, ability and class. In my initial search I reviewed the works of Buseje Bailey, Deanna Bowen, Carole Condé & Karl Beveridge, Richard Fung, John Greyson, Sylvia Hamilton and Claire Prieto. My critical writing touchstones are a 2007 FUSE roundtable between Andrea Fatona, Aruna Srivastava and Rinaldo Walcott on the “Ethno Politics of Identity,” a 1993 Cineaction survey article by Gabrielle Hezekiah about black Canadian women filmmakers and video artists, as well as a missive written by the incubator participants of the 2019 Images festival, in which these racialized emerging artists, art workers and curators express their vexation and disappointment with the organization’s efforts towards diversity and inclusion. I will consider the work and politics of the past generations through the lens of this callout: their ethical expectations will be the signposts I use to get a sense of what has changed or stayed the same. This research will culminate in a single substantial essay, a short screening program and a public conversation.
image: Maigre Dog, Donna James, 1990.