Garrett Bradley works across narrative, documentary and experimental modes of filmmaking to address themes such as race, class, familial relationships, social justice and cultural histories in the United States. Adopting archival material alongside newly shot footage, Bradley’s films exist simultaneously in the past, present and future, not only disrupting our perception of time, but also breaking down our preconceived ideas about objectivity, perspective and truth-telling. These narratives unfold naturally in both feature-length and short form, rather than being forced into a singular definition or perspective, and consequently reveal the characters’ multifaceted individual and collective stories.
The first in an evolving trilogy of films, AKA (2019) deals with the indeterminate dynamics between the mothers and daughters of interracial families and was debuted at the Whitney Biennial in 2019. The complexity of identity and heritage is further explored in America (2019), on view until March 21, 2021 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in Projects: Garrett Bradley. The exhibition is part of a multiyear partnership between The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Museum of Modern Art, and MoMA PS1. In America, Bradley re-imagines missing scenes from silent-era Black films, even sourcing sections of one surviving picture, Lime Kiln Club Field Day (1914), notable for having the first all-Black cast of any feature-length picture. Tackling the injustices and intricacies of the carceral state is the 12-minute film Alone (2017), which garnered a Sundance Short Film Jury Award and was in some ways a rehearsal for the abiding themes that would be further explored in Time (2020), a searing yet tender portrayal of a mother fighting to reunite her family amidst a seemingly insurmountable prison sentence. Time has been nominated for over 57 awards and won 20 times – including making Bradley the first Black female director to win Best Director at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival – in addition to being shortlisted for this year’s Oscar in the Documentary Feature category.
What unites all of her works – whether in documentary mode or in a gallery context – is a pervasive, all-seeing dream-like state, featuring any number of temporally fugitive, criss-crossing timelines, as well as imagery that is both uplifting and celebratory of Black bodies and minds.
Garrett Bradley (born 1986) lives and works in New Orleans. She has a BA from Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA (2007), and an MFA from UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2012). Recent presentations include Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America at New Museum, New York, NY, USA (2021); Projects: Garrett Bradley at Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA (2020-21); Time at Sundance Film Festival, US Feature Competition (2020); Garrett Bradley: American Rhapsody at Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, USA (2019); Shirin Neshat + Garrett Bradley at The Broad @ Array, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2019); Garrett Bradley’s America: A Journey Through Race and Time at Brooklyn Academy of Music New York, NY, USA (2019); Bodies of Knowledge at New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA, USA (2019); and the Whitney Biennial, New York, NY, USA (2019). Recent awards and honors include Best Director, Nonfiction Feature, Sundance Film Festival (2020); International Documentary Association nomination (2019); Creative Capital Grantee (2019); Field of Vision Fellowship (2018); and Warhol Foundation Grantee (2018). Bradley was a resident at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2015 and in 2019 she was awarded the prestigious Prix de Rome by The American Academy in Rome.