Steffani Jemison | Personal (2014)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Hyundai Card Video Views
Steffani Jemison on Personal, as told to Gee Wesley, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance, MoMA:
"Like many of my video works, Personal was inspired by something specific. In this case, I was responding to a turn-of-the-century film that begins with a man waiting in a park for a woman to arrive in response to his personal advertisement. In the original film, the man is overwhelmed by suitors and runs away; a group of women follow, and a chase ensues. When I conceived my piece, I was thinking about the way the chase structures time—the chase being a key subject of study in my earlier work—and the way the wait, the unconstrained narrative space before the chase, opens it up. “No loitering” signs are common in my neighborhood, where Personal was filmed. Anti-Blackness is built into the structure of vagrancy laws, which criminalize leisure: “free” time has often been seen as a threat. The notion of freedom is impossible to disconnect from ideas of space, time, and self-possession.
I’m very interested in the distance between public perception and private experience. For that reason, I often work in public space. Especially during the early years of my practice, I thought a lot about the demand to participate in a politics of representation—the insatiable appetite for images of Black people, and the many (often predatory) sources of that appetite. In my work, the viewer always rests some distance away from the action."
To view the limited-time screening, please visit MoMA Magazine's website.
For more information on Steffani Jemison's practice, please click here.