Testify (for The Harlem Six)


Testify (for The Harlem Six)

Video installation in conjunction with Glenn Ligon’s A Small Band

Presented by Black Cinema House at the Stony Island Arts Bank

Here we screen works that reflect on the capacity of Black people to speak truth to power, to address systematic abuses to and through their bodies, and the bodies of others.  In 1964, Harlem teenager Daniel Hamm bravely made his body speak — not only when he opened a fresh bruise while in police custody in order to show his need for medical treatment, but also when he recounted the gory tale, exposing to the world the atrociousness of police brutality, and its denial.

Talking, dancing, singing, remixing, dreaming— the films in this series show how such acts attest to the repetitive, cyclical nature of Black pain and suffering, particularly at the hands of the State.  Yet, like the alternately blinking neon words in Glenn Ligon’s A Small Band on view downstairs, these films also call attention to the power of reflection as resistance.  Testifying is a form of mirroring and repeating that does not merely copy.  Instead, each instance of testifying also has the power to transpose individual acts and memories of violence into newly resonant, radiating calls for empathy, shared outrage, and collective action.

Program 1: December 20-24 at 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm

Slaves (David Aronowitsch and Hanna Heilborn, Sweden/Norway/Denmark, 2008, 16m)

Animated documentary illustrating a conversations with two freed children from southern Sudan, who were kidnapped by a government-supported militia and forced into slavery.

Cornbread, Earl and Me (Joseph Manduke, 1975, 95m)

Set in Chicago, director Joseph Manduke’s classic film tells the story of Cornbread, a local basketball star on the verge of starting college on a scholarship, who is killed by a police officer. The film features surprisingly long sequences of courtroom testimony by a Black boy recounting the shooting of his hero. Keith Wilkes, who plays the title role, was in real life an all-American at UCLA. Based upon Ronald Fair’s novel Hog Butcher.