LOCATIONS OF THE M/OTHERSHIP: BLACK WOMEN AS FUGITIVE ARCHETYPE OF RESISTANCE Image

Jamika Ajalon’s short film had its origins as an audio-visual art gallery installation. Its genesis is immediately obvious: a cyclical repetition of avant-garde imagery, eerie music chords and cryptic sentences spoken by an authoritative disembodied voice.  It may have been a fascinating experiment in the gallery setting – where viewers can ebb and flow throughout the installation – but it is an utter bore when shoehorned into the cinematic medium.

The basic concept of this work is reconsidering the role of black women in classic science fiction, with Ajalon’s insistence that women of color play a dual role as an alien force and a symbol of a home planet. Footage of Nichelle Nichols’ Lt. Uhura from “Star Trek,” Gloria Foster’s Oracle from “The Matrix” series and Gina Torres’ Helen from “Cleopatra 2525” is shown, although none of the film clips offer anything to confirm Ajalon’s unusual thesis. Also included are photos of Harriet Tubman and 1960s radical activist Angela Davis, plus solarized footage of the sun moving through the sky.

The whole endeavor is framed with monotonous music and a repetitive track of commentary that may or may not have to deal with the position of black women in film history. Indeed, it is very difficult to maintain any degree of patience with this well intentioned but confusing foray into experimental filmmaking.

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