Garrett Bradley: American Rhapsody at the Momentary, Bentonville

By September 11, 2021
Garrett Bradley, AKA (film still), 2019; video: color, sound, 8:00 minutes. Image and work courtesy the artist.
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Installation view of Garrett Bradley: American Rhapsody at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2019. Photo by Will Michels.
Garrett Bradley, America (film still), 2019; multi-channel video installation, 35mm film transferred to video: black and white, sound, 23:55 minutes. Image and work courtesy the artist.

New Orleans-based artist and filmmaker Garrett Bradley works across narrative, documentary, and experimental modes of filmmaking to explore the social, economic, and racial politics of everyday life. Garrett Bradley: American Rhapsody features a selection of three recent works by the artist—two single-channel videos and a multi-channel video installation—America (2019), AKA (2019), and Alone (2017). 

In America, a multi-channel video installation, Bradley constructs a visual archive of early African American cinema, mixing found footage from Lime Kiln Club Field Day (the earliest-known film with an all-Black cast) and newly shot performances by non-trained actors of present-day slices of life. These visuals challenge audiences to consider what it might mean to see Black representation through a lens that privileges depictions of pleasure over spectacles of pain. AKA is the first in a trilogy of films about relationships between mothers and daughters born into interracial families or families of varying skin tones. The documentary short Alone follows the artist’s friend, Aloné Watts, as she navigates the intentionally complex U.S. prison system.

In these films, Bradley explores concepts of race, class, familial relationships, social justice, Southern culture, and U.S. film history. As the frames come together to tell a narrative, mundane and ordinary life events become images of beauty and reverence, connecting the dots from past to present and offering a new vision for the future.

from the exhibition text

Installation view of Garrett Bradley: American Rhapsody at the Momentary, 2021. Photo by Ironside Photography. Image courtesy the Momentary.
Garrett Bradley, Alone (film still), 2017; video: black and white, sound, 12:00 minutes. Image and work courtesy the artist.
Garrett Bradley, America (film still), 2019; multi-channel video installation, 35mm film transferred to video: black and white, sound, 23:55 minutes. Image and work courtesy the artist.
Garrett Bradley, America (film still), 2019; multi-channel video installation, 35mm film transferred to video: black and white, sound, 23:55 minutes. Image and work courtesy the artist.
Garrett Bradley, Alone (film still), 2017; video: black and white, sound, 12:00 minutes. Image and work courtesy the artist.

Garrett Bradley: American Rhapsody is on view at the Momentary in Bentonville, Arkansas through September 19.

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