Film Screening and Community Conversation | Rope/Fire/Water at OK Contemporary

Howardena Pindell’s short video, Rope/Fire/Water, is a haunting distillation of historical data and statistics related to lynching and racist attacks. It opens with a personal memory from her childhood but proceeds without further personal comment as she reads — without inflecting her tone with sentiment — short excerpts from historical text. The bibliographical citations simply read out before each excerpt places an emphasis on historical fact. In reciting this history, the video is a closure for the artist and a reckoning for the public whom she hopes would be moved by it. In “The Story of American Racism This Artist Couldn’t Tell in the 1970s” in Zora, Pindell told Brianna Holt that the video serves as a way for her to speak to the lynched man in a photograph she saw as a child, to say to the victim, “You did not die alone. Hundreds of people, maybe in time thousands, will know what happened to you and mourn your death along with the other thousands who were lynched.”

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