Sable Elyse Smith

2019 | 00:04:08 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: African-American, Incarceration, Media Analysis

At one point in END-LESSsestina, several men linking arms are made to walk, blindfolded, into a pool of water. We see thrashing and an expanse of blue, and finally, a lone tennis ball bobbing largely in the frame. Leading into this scene we hear a sports commentator contend, “it’s not just her out there, she’s representing America.” This line repeats itself throughout the video like a refrain; a pervasive echo of the American media’s criminalization of Serena Williams’ celebratory dance at the 2012 Olympics. Titled END-LESSsestina, Smith’s video mirrors the formal structure of poetic verse, layering imagery, audio recordings, and music to create lines, and stringing them together to form stanzas bookended by clips of black. Its soundtrack weaves popular music into diegetic sound, giving an eerie and emotional sense of the content. Through doubling, reverb, remixing and sampling, Smith points to the simplistic understanding of Black masculinity, and the everyday structures that contribute to the criminalization of Blackness.

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Exhibitions + Festivals

ScapeG.O.A.T, Art Basel, Statements Sector, JTT, Basel, CH, June 13th —19th, 2019

Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, MoMA PS1, Queens, NY, April 5th — August 23rd, 2020