Cauleen Smith is a San Diego-based filmmaker, screenwriter and video installation artist best known for her experimental works that examine themes of black female identity.
She’s an artist-in-residence at CalArts this week, and tonight the School of Film/Video presents a screening of several of her short Afro-Futurist films and videos in the Structuring Strategies program at 7 pm in the Bijou Theater.
“Afro-futurism” was first coined in 1995 by cultural critic Mark Dery in his essay Black To The Future to describe how African-American artists use science and technology to examine relationships between time, space, race and culture. In addition to Smith, other Afro-futurists include musicians Sun Ra, Lee Scratch Perry, visual arts John Biggers, Eldzier Cortor and writers Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler.
Tonight’s screening spans 19 years of Smith’s work with a focus on her experimental time-based media practice. The program includes her 1989 experimental biography (Chronicles of A Lying Spirit By Kelly Gabron) in which she uses an alter ego Kelly Gabron to document an emergence of an artist from a white-male-dominated American history (and American film history).
It ends with a more recent work, The Fullness of Time (2008), which was executive produced by Creative Time and Paul Chan, and shot by the “Students At the Center, New Orleans.” In this 50 minute film, an alien from the star NG 64519 on the far edge of the Milky Way loses her bearings in post-Katrina New Orleans.
The video clip above is an excerpt from The Fullness of Time.
Structuring Strategies: The Afro-Futurist Films of Cauleen Smith
Tuesday, April 13
The full screening schedule is listed after the jump.
It’s Not the Black (2 min. 2008)
miniDV video loop designed for two story elevator journey at The Kitchen, NYC. Landscape call and responses facilitated by Earth, Wind and Fire echoes, and Ivory Soap glaciers.
Chronicles of a Lying Sprit by Kelly Gabron (6.5 min. 1989, 16mm color/sound)
The protagonist, Cauleen, searches for her identity through space, time, genders, and place. The only thing that does not change is her race.
White Suit (4 min. 1994, 16mm color/sound with hand-painted leader)
A formal meditation on the physical estrangement, invisibility, and the roaring silences of overdetermined social performance and expectations.
The Changing Same (9.5 min. 1998, 35mm, Super8 Dolby)
The mothership sends an alien to earth to study the incubators (humans). She is told she is the only one. Her training prepares her for nothing. She discovers that she is not alone after all.
Right Hand Only, Left Hand Lonely (3 min. 2007, miniDV diptych)
Formalist mediation on the gaping cavern between continents, between lovers, between thought and words.
The Green Dress (14.5 min. 2005, 35mm color stereo)
The classical narrative syntax in search of string theory. Alienated souls search for each other attack one another and ultimately love each other. Designed for six channel installation.
The Fullness of Time (50 min. 2008, miniDV)
Executive produced by Creative Time and Paul Chan, and shot by the “Students At the Center, New Orleans”. An alien from the star NG 64519 on the far edge of the Milkyway loses her bearings in post-Katrina New Orleans.