Lynne d Johnson



« Previous Entry | Main Diary | Next Entry »

03.24.05 09:25 PM

of afros and angela

(L. to R. Lynne d Johnson, Coco Fusco)

my boy ron, founder and publisher of mosaic literary magazine, and pr guru at the bronx museum invited me to come out last night to lead a talk with coco fusco to discuss her video: A/K/A Mrs. George Gilbert for Bronx Museum of the Arts: Sample - Film, Music, Word & Performance.

From the Bronx Museum Newsletter: "This hybrid video blends fictional and documentary source material to tell the story of an FBI agent who confesses to his involvement in the nationwide search for Angela Davis, the famous radical philosopher and black activist who was on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list in 1970. Director Coco Fusco, 2004, 31 min. After the screening join culture writer Lynne d Johnson as she leads a discussion with the film's director."

all i kept thinking about was how much identitiy is wrapped up in hair, as well as how easy it is to mix fiction with fact. what lead fusco to make this film was that she was always interested in davis, but also interested in the many women who were arrested while the fbi searched for davis, as well as america's fascination with davis from the onset of her becoming a professor up to her arrest.

fusco uses this film to capture that fascination with a two-part narration discussion between a present-day female in search of the true angela davis story, and an fbi agent who was obsessed with her. a lot of the film focused on images of davis - the way the media and the law used photographs to program minds about who angela davis was.

before opening the floor up to q&a, i mainly asked fusco about what in her background lead her to this point. as well, i wanted to understand why she needed to tell this version of the story. and finally i wanted to know about her research process. i've already discussed what lead her to the project and why she needed to tell this version of the story, but left out the research topic purposely. fusco read every book, article, and legal document she could find. she also watched every movie she could get her hands on. all of this research got her to thinking about the women we've never heard about - those who were snatched up b/c they had afros or were light skinned - and there were others who didn't even fit either description. so in the film she juxtaposes fictional images of these women alongside davis. the research also got her thinking about all of the made up stories about angela davis and how they were held to be true - so instead fusco supposes a vision that could be linked more to reality. finally the research revealed how much people were still interested in davis and all of the memorabilia that exists (thanks to ebay of course).

the one thing that's a little creepy about the film is the agent's obsession with "the philosophy professor." at first he talks about her as just another target under surveillance, but it quickly moves to an obsession. an obsession with her voice, her hair, her smile. creeepy.

this film fosters an understanding of racial identity in terms of black hairstyles that represent power, particularly the afros of the late 60s - 70s. afros scared the beejuzus out of america, and from what i can tell, they still do (of course along with locs and cornrows, although most NBA and NFL brothas nowadays sport one or the other). and of course, like any other film that discusses cointelpro, light was shed on hoover's aim to destroy the black power movement.a lot was tied into this 31 minute presentation through mainly images of documents, clippings, and of course - phhotographic images.

i'm probably not being as articulate as i can be about this topic, because often it's hard for me to discuss things that i have a tangential relationship with.

overall, it was an interesting crowd that attended the screening and i know i enjoyed the film and the discussion - as did some SVA students who i rode home on the train with.

posted by lynne | |


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Links to weblogs that reference this entry:

» Democratizing the media one blog at a time |

Who is "the media"?

Rad Geek's kindly props to yours truly and DED Space (whom I neglected to mention in my excitement) for our ha..." [read more]
tracked on March 31, 2005 7:00 PM


This weblog is powered by Movable Type 3.3 and licensed under a Creative Commons License.