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Modernist Cinema as Black (Atlantic) Historiography – Aesthetic Strategies in Black British Filmmaking
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Contexts and Cultural Boundaries (KK).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0068-8063
2009 (English)In: Panels of the Eighth Conference of the Collegium for African American Research, 2009Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

How do artists deal with the lack of discursive space for the representation of Blackhistory? While Spike Lee depicts the story of Malcolm X in an epic mode, the British Black AudioFilm Collective (BAFC) rather focuses on the ruptures, gaps and fissures of Black history. Theirfilm Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993), which hit the cinema screens only a few months later than its US-counterpart, thus forms an interesting contrast to Lee’s feature film, in particular as itwas photographed by Spike Lee’s and Julie Dash’s cinematographer Arthur Jafa. Moreover, boththe BAFC-productions Handsworth Songs (1986) and Isaac Julien’s Looking for Langston (1989)acknowledge that Black history cannot be told in a linear mode. Instead, in centring around memoryand oblivion they focus on the “ghosts of stories” rather than on a chronological positivist narrative.My argument is that during the 1980s the BAFC (John Akomfrah, Reece Auguiste, Edward George,Lina Gopaul, Avril Johnson, David Lawson, and Trevor Mathison) as well as other British filmcollectives like Sankofa (Isaac Julien, Martina Attille, Maureen Blackwood and Nadine Marsh-Edwards) developed a modernist filmmaking that consciously employs formalistic means in orderto undermine the traditional depiction of history and memory inscribed into the Industrial Mode ofRepresentation.My paper explores the following questions: In what way did the industrial context in the 1980s enablethe avant-garde practices of British independent filmmaking? What aesthetic devices does the BAFCemploy to point at the “absence of ruins” (Derek Walcott)? How are modernist poetic strategies usedto reveal the “ghosts of history”? And in what way can Black British filmmaking be regarded as a siteof remembrance, as a part of postcolonial historiography?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009.
National Category
Studies on Film
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-5136OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-5136DiVA, id: diva2:328425
Conference
Black Knowledges - Black Struggles – Civil Rights: Transnational Perspectives, University of Bremen, Germany, March 25 - 29, 2009
Available from: 2010-07-04 Created: 2010-07-04 Last updated: 2015-05-04Bibliographically approved

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Brunow, Dagmar

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
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More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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