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← Abigail DeVille Listens to History | Art21 "New York Close Up"

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Showing Revision 1 created 03/07/2018 by Amara Bot.

  1. ["New York Close Up"]
  2. There’s something that,
    if you’re quiet enough and you listen,
  3. you’re being guided or directed to uncover
    specific bits of information.
  4. There’s always this act of digging,
  5. kind of like resuscitating life
    back into those lost fragments.
  6. ["Abigail DeVille Listens to History"]
  7. [The Contemporary at the Peale Museum, Baltimore]
  8. The materials that I choose are already speaking--
  9. speaking to the past through internal intuition.
  10. History is deep.
    It’s dark.
  11. It affects everything that’s happening,
    even at this very moment.
  12. It’s like a rock.
  13. You can try to tease out little bits
    in trying to make your way through material
  14. or make a way through space.
  15. [Abigail DeVille, artist]
    History is the tale of the victor, right?
  16. It’s garbage.
  17. It's garbage.
  18. Like George Washington's "wooden teeth"
    were actually teeth from slaves.
  19. God!
  20. It's nauseating.
  21. It's like the more you don't want to know,
    you know?
  22. [National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Baltimore]
  23. Well I think the first thing to go in history
    is the atrocities.
  24. Nobody wants to remember that.
  25. That’s the stuff that has to get swept away.
  26. Cover up--whitewash--is all attributed to
    the inability to get over slavery.
  27. It's the hangover that is not going away.
  28. There’s merit in the attempt to make something
  29. that could talk about something
    larger than yourself.
  30. People are messy,
    history is messy.
  31. The work needs to…
    [LAUGHS] reflect that.
  32. Thinking about bureaucracy
    and things just piling up.
  33. Thinking about all the voices that were lost.
  34. When things are painful,
    people don’t want to talk about them.
  35. But we can’t forget about
    the class of invisible people
  36. that were present at every single juncture
    and every single moment
  37. in the formation of this country and its myths.
  38. One of the incredible beauties
    and strengths of African Americans
  39. is this propensity for joy and endurance--
  40. despite all.
  41. There’s joy to occupy space in direct opposition
    or contrast of the dominant narrative.
  42. ["The New Migration," Harlem, New York]
  43. [SINGING AND PERCUSSION]
  44. "The New Migration" processionals
    have been more human-scale.
  45. They’re usually guerilla performances
    that happen.
  46. They’re unannounced.
  47. You encounter them or you don’t.
  48. [SINGING CONTINUES]
  49. [DEVILLE]
    --What inspired me to do that?
  50. [DEVILLE]
    --It’s based on migration of people.
  51. [MAN]
    --I get your concept,
    but where do I fit into that?
  52. [DEVILLE]
    --Oh, where do you fit into it?
  53. --Where do you want to fit into it?
  54. [MAN]
    --I don't want you to answer that...
  55. [DEVILLE]
    --That’s for you to figure out!
    Yes...
  56. [MAN]
    -- ...but it’s what I ask of myself all the time.
  57. [DEVILLE]
    --Oh, all right! [LAUGHS]
  58. From 1914 to 1970,
    the Great Migration happened
  59. and six million African Americans
    came up North
  60. looking for better opportunities.
  61. What’s happening now is this kind of reversal--
  62. of people being pushed out
    of places that they moved to.
  63. Just because it was north didn't mean that
    the racial tensions had gone anywhere.
  64. Well yeah, because white supremacy
    is what's for dinner, you know?
  65. [SINGING & MUSIC]
  66. ["The New Migration,"
    Anacostia, Washington, D.C.]
  67. Dragging.
  68. Walking barefoot.
  69. It’s the invisible weights
    that people are walking around with.
  70. The weight of history holds you down.
  71. I thought it was important to
    insert people where
  72. nobody knows about what Black people
    have contributed to the history of society.
  73. [SINGING & MUSIC]
  74. [SINGING & MUSIC CONTINUES]
  75. In Martin Luther King’s last speech--
    the "Mountaintop Speech"--
  76. he says, "Somehow, only when it’s dark enough
    can you see the stars."
  77. I was immediately drawn to the fearless optimism.
  78. Love feels like this powerful force
  79. that actually could enact change
    more than hate ever could.
  80. I think hate causes a kind of exhaustion.
  81. It's something for me
    never to lose sight of--
  82. or to constantly be reminded of--
  83. that we, as a people, we're going to get there.