Rhea Storr | 20.07. – 15.10.2021

Black Aesthetic Strategy: Images that Move

‘When an image speaks, it voices itself to an other, an internal to external relation. Like any voice, the aesthetics of the speaking image give tone and timbre to its language. Aesthetics is the form which gives voice to the content of the image. Images not only speak but move between/against/alongside themselves. The image on the move has agency in the way that it circulates and speaks in relation. An image might have many voices for its differing movements and for each new voice it deploys an aesthetic strategy.

By describing a series of aesthetic strategies, I want to consider how the production of an image influences the way it moves, where aesthetics gives agency over circulation. For good reason, images of Black bodies are often examined at the point of consumption, the point at which an image becomes an object. What I will develop instead is an argument for the centrality and manipulation of form at the point of production.

The aesthetic strategies which will be proposed here – redaction, affect, dislocation, construction and errantry – are by no means exhaustive or prescriptive. They are intended as a guide for making, a means for moving which resists the voicing of images on behalf of Black bodies by treating the Black body like a ventriloquist’s dummy… A strategic approach is particularly important to the representation of Black culture, as the voicing of Black bodies is mired in photographic traditions which seek control or to render them invisible. The aesthetic strategies proposed here offer a lexicon to voice images by Black voices with agency in their representation. Not only are they useful for the Black experimental cinema which will be considered in the coming weeks but can be employed by others with a desire to move similarly; image-makers in diaspora, in minority, under oppression or working counter culturally, etc.

And so we move.

Rhea Storr

Rhea Storr is an artist filmmaker and researcher investigating Black Radical Imagination as realised through experimental cinema, with a particular focus on 16mm filmmaking practices. She is currently undertaking a practice-based PhD at Goldsmiths, UK and is a co-director of ‘not nowhere’, an artists’ film co-operative that specialises in teaching analogue film techniques. Her filmic practice focuses on the representation of Black and Mixed-race cultures, the performance of women, masquerade and rural spaces. Recent exhibitions/screenings include, Fotomuseum Winterthur, National Museum for African American History and Culture, Whitechapel Gallery, Somerset House, and Lisson Gallery. She is the winner of the Aesthetica Art Prize 2020 and the inaugural Louis Le Prince Experimental Film Prize.