Artists' Television Access

Interview with “Black Radical Imagination” curators Erin Christovale and Amir George

erinNamirWe asked Erin Christovale and Amir George a few questions about “Black Radical Imagination.” They will be presenting  this futuristic shorts program at ATA on Saturday, August 31st. The screening will include a roundabout dialogue with the audience members to further ponder and process the stories that are being presented.

What inspired you to put “Black Radical Imagination” together as a film program?

(A) I was thinking about the conversations I wanted to have around the work we were going to select. Erin had this podcast where she discussed afro futurism, that was inspiring, and I started to build on those ideas.

(E) I did the podcast because my collective “Native Thinghood” was interested in discussing new futures for the black community.

(A) It was a concept we both wanted to present to expand the conversation.

The pieces delve into the worlds of video art, experimental film, and narrative shorts. How did you find the films? What can you tell us about the curatorial process?  

(A) When we were talking about artist we were thinking of whose work related most to the futurist concept. Afronauts was a piece we were both familiar with. I knew Buki and she just happened to be working on a futurist animation with Ezra. Erin was already interested in the work of Adoma, and Jacolby. I reached out to Anansi about contributing, then Cauleen who had already been making these awesome futurist themed films just made the program complete. All the works featured bring something different to the overall discussion.

One of the films included in the program is yours, Amir, “Mae’s journal.” What is the story behind the making of this film?  

(A)- I felt the story of Mae Jemison related to the futurist themes of the program. Her fulfilling her dreams of going to space. I based the movie around NASA stock footage of her mission and did a lot research on her. I discovered that she always admired Bessie Coleman and Nichelle Nichols Star Trek character, Lt. Uhura. I wanted people to know her story especially those who didn’t already.

Do you hope the screening will encourage people to think differently about the state of black culture? And if so, how?  

(E) Yes, this is one of our main goals considering this program was made to create new understandings of black identity on screen.  There has been a long history of projected stereotypes of what the black experience looks like and we wanted to break those notions and expand on others.

“Black Radical Imagination” is a traveling program. Can you tell us where it has been shown so far and about its reception by different audiences?  

(A + E) New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Switzerland, Philadelphia, and Houston. All the audiences have contributed their own ideas of what they Black Radical Imagination is about, and it has allowed the conversation to continue about the black experience in a futurist context.

Why did you choose ATA as a venue for your program?

(A) I think ATA is very supportive of experimental works. This is the second time I’ve had a program here. So for me it’s an immediate exhibition destination for the work I’m making and the work I’m curating currently.

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