Tea Time Thursday: Kate MacKay in conversation with filmmakers Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena N. Harold

Open to Curator’s Circle members at the $1,000 level and above

Our featured guests on Thursday, August 20, are filmmakers Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena N. Harold, in conversation with BAMPFA Associate Film Curator Kate MacKay.

Inspired by research into the history of Black activism at the University of Virginia (UVA), and faced with a dearth of archival images, Claudrena N. Harold and Kevin Jerome Everson set out to make their own “found footage.” Since 2012, they have made eight films, totaling seventy-seven minutes of screen time, under their Black Fire film imprint. These compelling works offer profound insights into campus life at UVA, as well as the experiences of Black students and faculty on college campuses across the country. They also serve as primary sources for BAMPFA Associate Curator Kate MacKay’s investigation into the uses of formal innovation and experimentation in cinema to address social and political themes—research funded by a curatorial fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. A synthesis of Harold’s rigorous scholarship and Everson’s refined, materialist image-making, the Black Fire films are the result of a radical, non-narrative approach to represent the history of Black achievement and everyday life at UVA. 

Three of the films will be made available to Virtual Tea Room participants from Friday August 14 to Sunday August 23: 

Sugarcoated Arsenic is structured around a speech given by Vivian Gordon, director of UVA’s Black studies program from 1974 to 1979, and it replicates the look of found footage. (2013; 16mm on digital; black and white; 21 min.; courtesy Picture Palace Pictures)

We Demand is about James R. Roebuck, the first African American president of UVA’s Student Council. Using a wide aspect ratio and rear screen projection techniques, it evokes a 1960s Hollywood biopic. (2016; 16mm on digital; color; 10 min.; courtesy Picture Palace Pictures)

Fastest Man in the State was inspired by yearbook photographs of athletes, and it visually suggests photographs come to life. The soundtrack features reflections of former football star Kent Merritt, one of the first Black athletes to compete at UVA, interspersed with a reenactment of play-by-play commentary from a game featuring Merritt and his cohort. (2017; 16mm on digital; black and white, and color; 10 min.; courtesy Picture Palace Pictures)

Kevin Jerome Everson is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Art at the University of Virginia. He has made more than 170 experimental films that have been exhibited internationally. Retrospectives of his work have appeared at Cinema du Reel (2019), Harvard Film Archive (2018), Tate Modern (2017), Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (Seoul; 2017), the Whitney Museum of American Art (2011), and the Centre Pompidou (2009), and he was featured at the 2008, 2012, and 2017 Whitney Biennials; the 2013 Sharjah Biennial; and the 2018 Carnegie International. Everson was awarded the 2020 Berlin Prize, the twenty-fourth Heinz Award in Art and Humanities, and the 2012 Alpert Award for Film/Video.

Chair of the History Department, and professor of African American and African studies and history at the University of Virginia, Claudrena N. Harold specializes in African American history, Black cultural politics, and labor history. Her publications include: The Rise and Fall of the Garvey Movement in the Urban South, 1918–1942; The Punitive Turn: New Approaches to Race and Incarceration, coedited with Deborah E. McDowell and Juan Battle; New Negro Politics in the Jim Crow South; Charlottesville 2017: The Legacy of Race and Inequity, coedited with Louis Nelson; and the forthcoming When Sunday Comes: Gospel Music in the Soul and Hip-Hop Eras.

Since joining the staff of BAMPFA in 2016, Associate Film Curator Kate MacKay has organized more than sixty film series and special screenings, including Hippie Modernism: Cinema and Counterculture 1964–1974 (2017); Samurai Rebellion: Toshiro Mifune, Screen Icon (2017); Reflection and Resistance: James Baldwin and Cinema (2017); Documenting Vietnam: Self-Portraits of America at War (2018); Life Goes On: The Films of Mia Hansen-Løve (2019); Arthur Jafa / MATRIX 272, co-organized with Apsara DiQuinzio (2019); and Next Door to Darkness: The Films of David Lynch (2020).

This is the latest installment of our biweekly online conversation series for Curator’s Circle members, a collection of online events that offer insights from and Q&A’s with our curators. Please join us online at 4 PM every other Thursday for these intimate conversations. 

This event is open to Curator’s Circle members at the $1,000 level and above. Space is limited, and reservations will be taken on a first come, first served basis. Registered participants will receive an email with a secure event link on August 18. 

Please contact Director of Special Events Masha Berek at mberek@berkeley.edu for more information or to register.