The commitment to interiority and ordinary life, consistently present in Black women’s independent cinema, counteracts the spectacularity that historically, as now, has been too often strangled by profit and libidinally driven demands to see black suffering; it marks instead, a form of openness and care
– Yasmina Price
The American artist and filmmaker Garrett Bradley opens her inaugural exhibition with Lisson Gallery this autumn. Safe (2022) is the second in a trilogy of short films that explore the nuanced overlap between women’s interior and exterior lives. The film succeeds AKA (2019), a cinematic meditation on the intergenerational relationships between mothers and daughters which probes the interconnection of white and black women, as it is portrayed in classic American cinema.Read more
If AKA looked to exterior relationships, Safe focuses on inner life, which the artist likens to “entire worlds which may be elusive or indiscernible, but remain vivid, infinite and parallel to the outside world.” Working again with Donna Crump (America) and Aloné Watts (Alone, America), this new work explores an attempt to capture the ineffable nature of interior emotions. Seizing on the medium's predicament of expression – given that the interior is not discursive and cannot be fully represented – Bradley suggests that the interior is a radical, even political space of Black life that is often dismissed for its resistance to description; in this case, one’s ability to visualize intuition, instinct and an increasing sense of paralysis in modern life. Visual metaphor is treated as a means to approximate interior emotion (and lesser-known histories), which Bradley suggests as a potent and meaningful form of human expression.
Exhibited as a three-channel film, the work utilises both black-and-white and colour, 35mm film and HD video. Bradley’s soundscapes draw from the exterior world (street corners, city sirens, public parks), and include evocative fragments of language which are directly culled from research. The score runs concurrently across all three of 67 Lisson Street’s exhibition spaces.
Also on view: AKA (2019) is presented at MOCA, Los Angeles as part of the final leg of Bradley’s American museum touring show, ‘American Rhapsody’, from 10 September to 19 February 2023, first seen in Houston; while another new work will debut at MoMA, New York, for the exhibition, ‘Just Above Midtown: 1974 to the Present’, from 9 October to 18 February 2023.