Public Screening #06: Skip Norman: selection of films, March 22, 2018, Arsenal


Skip Norman, Helke Sander and Harun Farocki in BRECHT DIE MACHT DER MANIPULATEURE (1967/68) from Helke Sander

Thursday, March 22, 2018
7 p.m.
Arsenal, Cinema 2

Skip Norman, who was born in Baltimore in 1933 and died in Washington DC in 2015, was a student at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB) in 1966, the first year of its existence. He went on to become a director and worked on 27 dffb productions. The titles of his films all hint at the struggle to assert an Afro-American identity in a world shaped by whites. CULTURAL NATIONALISM (1969), BLACK MAN’S VOLUNTEER ARMY OF LIBERATION(1970) or STRANGE FRUIT(1970) named after the song by Billie Holiday. BLUES PEOPLE (1968) adapted parts of the play “Dutchman” by his peer LeRoi Jones (who later became Amiri Baraka). “They say, ‘I love Bessie Smith’ and don’t even understand that Bessie Smith is saying, ‘Kiss my ass, kiss my black unruly ass.’” We will be screening five of his short films from the archives of the Arsenal Cinema and the Deutsche Kinemathek.

Blues People FRG 1968
16 mm English OV 18 min

Cultural Nationalism FRG 1969
16 mm English OV 11 min

Black Man’s Volunteer Army of Liberation USA 1970
16 mm English OV 43 min

Strange Fruit USA 1970
16 mm English OV 29 min

Washington D.C. November 1970 USA 1970
16 mm English OV 18 min

March 15th, 2018, Event / Projects
Interface

David Graeber (1961-2020) on What Would It Take (from his The Democracy Project. A History, a Crisis, a Movement, 2013, p. 193): “We have little idea what sort of organizations, or for that matter, technologies, would emerge if free people were unfettered to use their imagination to actually solve collective problems rather than to make them worse. But the primary question is: how do we even get there? What would it take to allow our political and economic systems to become a mode of collective problem solving rather than, as they are now, a mode of collective war?”

September 7th, 2020, Tom

T.J. Demos on why cultural practitioners should never surrender, via tranzit.sk:  “For artists, writers, and curators, as art historians and teachers, the meaning-production of an artwork is never finished, never fully appropriated and coopted, in my view, and we should never surrender it; the battle over significance is ongoing. We see that battle rise up in relation to racist and colonial monuments these days in the US, the UK, and South Africa. While the destruction of such monuments results from and is enabling of radical politics, it’s still not enough until the larger institutions that support and maintain their existence as well as the continuation of the politics they represent are also torn down. This is urgent as well in the cultural sphere, including the arts institutions, universities, art markets, discursive sphere of magazines and journals, all in thrall to neoliberalism, where we must recognize that it’s ultimately inadequate to simply inject critical or radical content into these frameworks, which we know excel at incorporating those anti-extractivist expressions into further forms of cultural capital and wealth accumulation. What’s required is more of the building of nonprofit and community-based institutions, organizing radical political horizons and solidarity between social formations.”

August 21st, 2020, Tom

Bernard Stiegler, quoted from The Neganthropocene (trans. Daniel Ross): “Does anyone really believe that it is possible to ‘solve’ the problems of climate change, habitat destruction and cultural destruction without addressing the consumerist basis of the present macro-economic system, or vice versa, or without addressing the way in which this system depletes the psychic energy required to find the collective will, belief, hope and reason to address this planetary challenge? Can this consumerism really survive the coming wave of automation that threatens to decimate its customer base and undermine the ‘consumer confidence’ that is fundamental to its perpetual growth requirements, themselves antithetical, once again, to the problems of biospherical preservation?”

August 14th, 2020, Tom
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