In this interview, Basma Alsharif (b.1983) examines the multiple ways in which her work engages with the notion of nomadism. Beginning with a discussion of how she initially came to video through photography, Alsharif describes how this transformation of her practice required a translation of artistic sensibilities. The artist feels this displacement between media gave her the tools to critically engage with the displacement she felt as a Palestinian-American.
The Diaspora Suite
Oscillating between a street festival in Philadelphia, the slave forts and capitol city of Ghana, and the New Jersey shore, American Hunger explores the relationship between personal experience and collective histories. American fantasies confront African realities. African realities confront America fantasies.
Company Line is a film about one of the first predominately Black neighborhoods in Mansfield, Ohio. The title, Company Line, refers to the name historically used by residents to describe their neighborhood, located on the north side of town close to the old steel mill. The Company Line began during the post–war migration of Blacks from the south to the north in the late 1940’s. The neighborhood was purchased in the early 1970s and its residents were scattered throughout Mansfield.
Upon entering the harbor, the voyager leaves the exceptional condition of the boundless sea--this traversable space of maritime immensity--to come ashore in an offshore place, in a container world that only tolerates the trans-local state of not being of this place--nor of any other really--but of existing in a condition of permanent not-belonging, of juridical non-existence. He comes to signify the itinerant body, bound to string along a chain of territories, never reaching a final destination.
In this interview, African American filmmaker and DJ Ephraim Asili (b. 1979) discusses his upbringing, education, and creative process. Born and raised around the city limit of Philadelphia, Asili’s childhood and adolescence were imbued with hip hop music, Hollywood movies and television. He studied film at Temple University where he finished his thesis project, the documentary Points on a Space Age (2007) with the Sun Ra Arkestra.
A woman recounts her story of the mass exodus of Palestinians from Jerusalem. Beginning with the arrival and ending with the departure, the tale moves backwards in time and through various landscapes. The events are neither undone nor is the story untold; instead, Farther than the eye can see traces a decaying experience to a place that no longer exists.
Fences Make Senses re-stages and interrogates international barriers and borders using the bodies of non-refugees. Through a series of rehearsals, Barber aims to have privileged bodies experience the themes, situations, and ideas that refugees frequently face. This video was produced in response to the great number of documentaries the artist witnessed that interviewed the unfortunate in their impoverished conditions. Kept in limbo and squalor for years, these refugees are casually disliked by their "host" country.
A collection of unidentified individuals is stuck together on a boat. Are they going home? Where is their home and why are they so silent? This short work takes a look at a displaced and uprooted community.
The Diaspora Suite
Filmed on location in Salvador, Brazil (the last city in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw slavery) and Harlem, NY ( an international stronghold of the African Diaspora), Many Thousands Gone draws parallels between a summer afternoon on the streets of the two cities. A silent version of the film was given to jazz multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee to use an interpretive score. The final film is the combination of the images and McPhee’s real time “sight reading” of the score.
This Was Home is comprised of three channels, which present three generations of the artist’s family. On one screen Levy presents her maternal grandfather, Karl Ribstein, another shows her father, Yossi Levy, and the third presents the artist herself. Levy documented each of these protagonists on a journey back to their childhood city and to the home where they grew up, which they had not revisited since having to leave it in their childhood.