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my talk at the university of rochester

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today i presented my work at a class on “black bodies: intersecting intimacies” at the University of Rochester. the class is taught by the brilliant kate mariner. i had met kate a few years ago and we had bonded over claudia rankine’s book, “citizen: an american lyric.” her students have been reading the book for this class and rankine’s work has also inspired The Injured Body: A Film about Racism in America (a work in progress). 

i shared some clips from the interviews we’ve filmed so far, Rajesh Barnabas and i, and showed them pictures shot by photographer Erica Jae. i also shared footage i edited for a multimedia piece that was presented at the fringe in 2016, in which we combined dance and film. i continue to collaborate with choreographer Mariko Yamada on “the injured body.”

i talked to them about a project i am working on with 6 other artists based in england, france and turkey, which has to do with orientalist representations of women from the colonies in the 19th century. i shared artwork by Afsoon Afsoonagain and Salma Caller

i ended with a recent article by Teju Cole titled “when the camera was a weapon of imperialism (and when it still is), pointing out the right to opacity as advocated by edouard glissant. 

it was a long lecture but the students asked some wonderful questions – about new research on racism and PTSD, about the power of the gaze in film and photography, about ways to right colonial theft and extraction, about how conflicts in africa and the middle east lead to immigration to western countries with their own deeply embedded histories of racism. 

many students stayed behind after the class to talk about maimouna guerresi’s work, orientalist depictions of women, and film festivals where they’d like to see my work. perhaps the loveliest feedback was from a young woman from taiwan who said that her parents had seen my film A Thin Wall in taipei and were v excited for her to meet me! what a small world it is. glissant would approve 🙂

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