Black Bodies In Water, video collage, trt22s, 2022

To someone like me, when I hear the words, “black bodies in water,” my initial inclination is to think of the death of black people caused by water. Not a typical drowning, but one either sanctioned by a group of people (the enslaved Africans) or preventable (Hurricane Katrina).

The trauma that surrounds black people and water is inescapable at times and I want to retrain myself to think of “black bodies in water” as a place of joy, freedom, and leisure. I know more black people that do not know how to swim than those that do. Lack of access to recreational parks and pools in the contemporary sense is the reason why most black people have never learned how to swim. Additionally, the generically imprinted fear of large bodies of water that has been passed down from generation to generation of black people results in a lack of motivation to learn how to swim as well.

In this digital collage, I wanted to show the impact of lack of resources, poor planning and prevention, and racism’s effects on the black people of New Orleans, LA. To further prove my point that there is a way to train new thoughts while still recognizing the past, I included video of this musician who looks so at ease, angelic even, as they float and spin in the water. It calms me and it draws out of me a desire to be in water where I can feel weightless and carefree, something that most black people fight to attain on a daily basis.

All found video: BJ Griffin Music; CBS News Memorable TV Moments: Hurricane Katrina; song: Son Shine by SAULT

Let’s Be Cops, video collage, trt51s, 2021

The many victims of police excessive force rarely see justice and with this, law enforcement tends to be treated as a mythical character, a unicorn even.  Any information that was available to the public via social media and other online profiles of the offending officer is scrubbed from the internet with haste. The immediate entry into administrative duty further lightens their presence into faint transparency. The very bottom layer of this video can barely be made out but it is still there; it is not totally erased but it is obscured. The image is of the movie poster for “Let’s Be Cops.” The second layer is a meme of one of many Blue Lives Matter images online. On the rare occasion a law enforcement officer loses their life while on duty, swift justice occurs, yet the frequency in which active duty LEO deaths occur is at a much lower rate than those of civilians murdered by law enforcement. It made me think of this dialogue from the movie American Psycho where the character, Patrick Bateman, details his skincare routine while simultaneously reflecting on his existence that stands in an irony of invisibility.

All found video and image.

Making Magic, single channel video, trt6m12s, 2017

Making Magic is a compilation of short videos documenting the production process of my handmade hair and body care business (no longer operating). I used video to showcase and market my products to customers. In this short film, you’ll see ingredients like walnut shell powder, shea butter, and oils. I am whipping the mixtures with a hand mixer or swirling it around with a spoon.

Making Magic is best viewed via projection onto a wall or screen while playing your favorite music. For the full experience, the video is intended to loop.

Edit: Jacob Berkowitz