The Afro-Futurist Films of Cauleen Smith
A free public screening and discussion with the artist
Saturday, March 1—1:30pm, Room 112, Thompson Biology Lab, 59 Lab Campus Dr.
In 1989, Cauleen Smith produced an experimental biography (Chronicles of A Lying Spirit By Kelly Gabron) in which marginal representations of black female identity are transposed upon images and locations spanning vast spaces, places, and time. Time travel became narrative metaphor for a diasporic identity in search of itself.
In 1995, the cultural critic Mark Dery published his essay, “Black To The Future,” in which he coined the term “Afrofuturism” to describe the phenomenon of African American artists using the strategies, metaphors, and aesthetics of science, technology, cosmology, and physics to frame and structure their music (Sun Ra, Lee Scratch Perry), visual art (John Biggers, Eldzier Cortor), and narratives (Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler). This label has served to realign artists and intellectuals of the past with contemporary cultural producers into a continuum in which race itself becomes a technology that permits the exploration of inner spaces, outer spaces, and structures for intimacy, freedom, and social utility that are unsanctioned by mundane (non-speculative) narratives.
The Afro-Futurist Films of Cauleen Smith span nineteen years of experimental time-based media practice. As Smith’s critical engagement with sci-fi deepens, she better understands the fact that it is quite a natural genre for a person who is very interested in history, memory, and cognitive estrangement.
The Everyday Possibilities of the Black Imagination: A Conversation with Cauleen Smith
Friday, February 28—4:00pm, Griffin 6
In conjunction with her visit to Williams, Cauleen Smith will present and discuss selections from her acclaimed film, video, and mixed-media work, and her broader exploration of speculative and innovative currents in black cultural traditions. Everyone is welcome, but if you are interested in learning more about Cauleen Smith’s work in advance, please contact Vince Schleitwiler at [email protected]
Cauleen Smith is an acclaimed filmmaker and video artist whose work reflects on the everyday possibilities of the black imagination. In narrative features and experimental shorts, multi-channel film and video installations, incorporating sculptural objects and text, and in other innovative work across a variety of media and forms, Smith has pursued wide-ranging interests roaming from her roots in structuralist filmmaking to Afrofuturist narrative strategies. Her work has garnered numerous awards, grants, and residencies, and been featured at festivals and museums including Sundance, SXSW, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MOCA Los Angeles, MCA Chicago, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Sponsored by the Graduate Program in the History of Art, the English Department, the American Studies Department, the Davis Center, the Comparative Literature Program, and the Africana Studies Program.