Video Art

Steffani Jemison at the Studio Museum is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

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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