Esther Windsor

Scene and Heard


6th August 1996


Scene and Heard: Power and Sexual Imagery

In recent years questions of pleasure and desire have been in the foreground of debates within photography, experimental film and video, and politics of representation. The rediscovery of identity in post colonial societies is often the object of passionate research which can also critically investigate the inherent qualities of the medium used to explore identity - the emergent work across the artforms has been significant in contributing to innovative forms of visual and cinematic representations. Currently images of alternative sexuality are prevalent in soap operas, advertising, music and the popular press. Drawing on visual imagery and subcultural codes, Scene and Heard seeks to place the uses and abuses of sexual images in contemporary cultural politics.

Ajamu's direct images intersect with different identities and acceptable limits of representation providing the viewer with a forum to interrogate the politics of identity arising from the power balance set up in sexual imagery Black gay men's sexuality has been demonized as the ultimate other to the liberal humanist ego, from films like The Crying Game' to the ruthless homophobia of rap Scene and Heard hopes to address this challenge of mutual criticism with analysis of contradictory identifications, and the discussion will search for routes out of the marginality consigned by the hierarchical ordering of difference.

The day will be divided into two sessions with a screening of film and video before each discussion session:

Part One
Screening: Sexual Visionaries - a selection of experimental film and video pieces from a programme curated by Kathleen Maitland Carter for LVA to be launched in London in October.

Panel Discussion: Power imagery - Time-based Media and Stills Looking at gay and black imagery in experimental photography, video and film this talk will highlight the contrasting approaches to the issues of representation, sexuality and otherness in the still and moving image. Referencing sources from 'Boyz 'n' the Hood' to 'Hamlet' the Scene and Heard panel questions what purposes stereotypes of visual representations serve in cultural hegemony, politics and fantasy.

Speakers include: Kobena Mercer (chair), Jill Casid and Maria De Guzman, lan Rashid

Part Two
Screening: Sexuality in Music Videos - a compilation of gangster rap, hiphop and techno videos.

Panel Discussion: Art into Pop -Territories and Identities

Discusses the multiplicity and invention of identity through the black male in mass culture. Taking the hegemony of the gay white press, and the homophobia in gangster rap culture and colonial fantasy the discussion will focus on role models and style in pop culture and the growing tendency towards 'identity tourism'.

Speakers include: Ajamu, Kodwo Eshun, Matthew R. Lewis, Zahid Dar, chair to be confirmed