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Weekly Watchlist: “The mind is the battleground for photography”

Edgar Arceneaux revisits a Reagan-era blackface performance

For his Performa 2015 commission, Until, Until, Until…, Edgar Arceneaux staged a reenactment of Ben Vereen’s misunderstood blackface performance at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Inaugural Gala.

Vereen’s original performance was censored in ABC’s national television broadcast to remove his critique and commentary on racist stereotypes in performance.

“Even if America had seen it, I am not convinced that most people would have thought that it was a good idea,” said Arceneaux in our “Los Angeles” episode. “That’s the reason why I wanted to do it, because of that uncertainty.”

An archival film of Arceneaux’s commission will be streamed in full on July 9 and 10 at the Performa website.

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LaToya Ruby Frazier makes moving pictures

Interrogating how the toxic geography of Braddock, Pennsylvania has shaped multiple generations of her family’s bodies and psychology, LaToya Ruby Frazier’s images of her hometown mirror complex social problems that beset America today such as class inequity, access to health care, and environmental racism.

“The mind is the battleground for photography,” says Frazier, who creates images that “tell my story because it hasn’t been told.”

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