The Glasses on My Nosetip.
Single channel video, 5'36", 2018.
Commissioned by Runway for issue 37 CINEMA (guest edited by Sarinah Masukor and Alifa Bandali), in response to Uptight by Jules Dassin, 1968.
In the 1968 film Uptight, a group of black radical militants prepares for revolution in the midst of the anguish and fury of Martin Luther King’s assassination. There is a tangential scene in movie, about half way in, in which the myriad tensions within radical politics – in the US as well as elsewhere – play out in microcosm. The radicals, largely democratic in organisation, are meeting in an abandoned bowling alley. They are the revolutionaries; representatives of the will and mood of the people. They are to meet with a prominent black politician. He represents the moderate liberal political figure; the reformer struggling to make change from within the system he wants to disassemble. And there is the figure of the ally, in this case, a white radical activist who is in solidarity with the black radicals. Despite a common target, there are tensions between these three branches. The radicals are critical of the liberal politician, who is attempting to dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools. The liberal, on the other hand, thinks the radicals are too dogmatic and should settle for gradualist approaches. The black radicals are also critical of the white radical, ultimately expelling him for his inability to let the militants fight their own fight alone. “We don’t want your know-how,” says one of the radicals. “We got to develop our own, or die.”
This loaded scene is emblematic of revolutionary struggles throughout time and place. There’s always the revolutionary vanguard pushing forward. There’s always the reformer who hesitates and stalls. And there’s always the ally, that free-floating figure who is at once peripheral and central, useful and destructive, potentially as much of a problem as the problem being fought.
WINNER, Open category, Fisher's Ghost Art Prize, 2019.