MoMA Documentary Fortnight 2018
New Orleans, Atlanta, St Louis, Salem, IFF Boston
An exploration of the creators, consumers, and re-appropriators of racially stereotypical/racist black memorabilia, like Mammy figurines.
Tackling a controversial but complex subject, Colvard offers an intriguing and thoughtful approach, profiling three individuals, all women, who are engaged with the surprisingly lucrative market in black memorabilia in different ways. In China, Jian works in one of the many factories that produce reproductions of historical items to address the renewed demand. Though she likens her job to her family’s traditional trade in ironworking, she is very conflicted about the idea that what she produces uses offensive imagery. Joy, a white woman, makes a living as a dealer in black memorabilia, including KKK and slavery related items, beyond relatively more innocuous figurines. She views this material as important, real black history that should be visible and available to the public, even if it’s disturbing. Younger visual artist Alexandria in NYC uses a black-face, hood-covered Pickaninny-styled character in much of her work, and also dresses like her at times. She feels drawn to take ownership of and re-appropriate these uncomfortable images. Together, Colvard’s three subjects offer a thought-provoking reframing of these problematic artifacts.