Notes on Black Video: 1987–2001

Programmed by Emily Martin | 01:26:01 | 1987-2001

Video Details
Lawrence Andrews | 1987 | 00:18:41 | United States | English | Color | 4:3

"Directed and produced by our culture," An I for An I studies how violence is internalized and psychologized by overlapping soundtracks, printed texts, recurrent images, doctored footage and split screens. 

The Video Data Bank is pleased to announce the acquisition and distribution of the moving image works of internationally exhibited artist Hans Breder (1935-2017). In a career spanning six decades, Breder’s sensibility was expressed in and between painting, sculpture, photography, music, installation, video and film--each expression an invitation to subversive liminality and momentary transcendence. Breder’s work dissolves boundaries and manipulates perception, sometimes enticing, sometimes shocking the observer to an experience of liminality from which a realm of pure possibility may emerge.

One of the first video artists whose work was included in three Whitney Biennials, Breder founded the Intermedia Program in the School of Art & Art History at the University of Iowa in 1968 and directed it until his retirement as F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor in 2000. The internationally regarded program was built on Breder’s interdisciplinary inclination for intellectual and aesthetic collision.

The VDB has been working with Breder’s representative, Adam Burke (media artist and documentarian who worked as an assistant to Breder from 2014 to 2017), to preserve his titles and prepare them for distribution. To celebrate the launch of the Hans Breder archive at VDB, Burke and the VDB team have selected this program for VDBTV of six titles as a representative introduction.

Featured Titles

A formidable collage of striking images, this powerful and provocative work confronts racial violence through images of ecological mayhem, machismo, pornography, and Third World poverty — images which return to the taboo body of a black man. "Directed and produced by our culture," An I for An I studies how violence is internalized and psychologized by overlapping soundtracks, printed texts, recurrent images, doctored footage and split screens. The piece attacks racist culture and pleads for an alternative recourse to violence.

Black Body

Black Body is a harsh and compelling meditation on the contradictory values assigned to black bodies in American culture: they exist as both desired and feared, abject and powerful. The “black body” is a body whose surface reflects projected fears and repressed desires; as such, it exists as a site of ideological struggle, a surface which is simultaneously eroticized and denegrated.

Sapphire and the Slave Girl

Loosely based on the 1950s British detective film Sapphire, in which two Scotland Yard detectives investigate the murder of a young woman who is passing for white, Sapphire and the Slave Girl examines the determinants of Sapphire's murder investigation through its cinematic representation.

Fade to Black

In this meditation on contemporary race relations, two black men discuss in voiceover certain “casual” events in life and cinema that are unnoticed or discounted by whites — gestures, hesitations, stares, off-the-cuff remarks, jokes — details of an ideology of repressed racism.

This title is also available on Tony Cokes Videoworks: Volume 1.

Love Songs #1

Love Songs #1 is composed of three pieces that pose questions about urban culture, race, and politics. Found footage images are manipulated and juxtaposed with popular music; the effects are unsettling, ironic, and sometimes humorous.