Video Art

Males on the Run

The Daily Pic: Steffani Jemison shows us what we make of fleeing youths.

02.13.13 10:13 PM ET

These are stills from Steffani Jemison’s video called “The Escaped Lunatic”, now on view at the Studio Museum in Harlem in “Fore”, a group show that presents emerging black talent. (Click on the image to watch a clip from the video). The video is straightforward but powerful: It presents a scruffy urban landscape, across which run a series of almost identical Young Black Males, and the action loops ad infinitum. Jemison says that the piece is based on early  silent-film chases, and sees the piece as being about “persistence and futility” amid cultural, social and geographic constraints. But I read it  differently: It seemed to be about the stereotypes we associate with running black youths, and the TV-bred image we have of them as always fleeing a crime, or perpetrating one. 

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