Flesh to Spirit: Materiality and Abstraction in Black Experimental Film

Friday, Mar 4, 2022 7 – 8 pm

Northwestern University
40 Arts Circle Dr.
Evanston, IL 60201

In-Person, Free | RSVP


"The Block Museum's Flesh to Spirit engages what it means to be a Black body—a joyful body, an oppressed body, an exploited body, a body once bought and sold as goods, a body that’s so much more than its corporeal form—in ways both nimbly tactile and equivocally abstruse as only art can be, specifically vis-à-vis experimental film and video."

– Kathleen Sachs "Black film at Block Cinema"(Chicago Reader Feb 25, 2022)


Twelve experimental shorts bring the bodies and spirit of Black people to the big screen.

"Flesh to Spirit" explores the many ways that film artists have embraced abstract techniques and explored the materiality of film and video to represent Black experience, from the 1960s to the present. Charting connections between several generations of moving-image makers, "Flesh to Spirit" will showcase brilliant works in 16mm and 35mm film, analog and digital video. The films in "Flesh to Spirit" propose alternative possibilities in film and in life, from Paige Taul’s After DeCarava, which treats photographic abstraction as a form of care, to Ayanna Dozier’s Maman Brigitte, which connects Black women’s bodily autonomy to the texture of analog film.

Following the screening, filmmakers Paige Taul and Christopher Harris will appear for a discussion and Q&A.

Presented with support from the Kaplan Humanities Institute at Northwestern University.
Image: An Ecstatic Experience (2015). Courtesy Ja'Tovia Gary


About the films:

  • After DeCarava (Paige Taul, 2018, 2 min, digital)
  • Private Imaginings and Narrative Facts (Edward Owens, 1966, 6 min, digital)
  • Flesh to Spirit (alima lee, 2019, 9 min, digital)
  • Maman Brigitte (Ayanna Dozier, 2021, 3 min, digital)
  • Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification (Barbara McCullough, 1979, 4 min, 35mm)
  • Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) (Cauleen Smith, 1992, 6 min, 16mm)
  • MPG: Motion Picture Genocide (Robert Banks, 1997, 4 min, 35mm)
  • Reckless Eyeballing (Christopher Harris, 2004, 13 min, 16mm)
  • cavity (ariella tai, 2019, 6 min, digital)
  • An Ecstatic Experience (Ja’Tovia Gary, 2015, 6 min, digital)
  • Planet X (Ulysses Jenkins, 2006, 7 min, digital)
  • 28.IV.81 (Bedouin Spark) (Christopher Harris, 2009, 3 min, 16mm)