About Performing Memory Through the Archive talk + film screening with Johanna Tesfaye

This event will take place in the Wells Screening Room of the IU Libraries Moving Image Archive.

The imperial archive functions as a project and process of power. Housing plundered and dispossessed objects and stories, it credentials imperial narratives and legitimizes the perpetual violence and dispossession of all peoples. Archival structures reify who gets to tell stories, whose stories are told, and how. How might those dispossessed through hegemonic archival practices transform the archive into a praxis of recollection? What might creative practices that counter imperial archives, and ultimately epistemologies rooted in violence, look like? Building off the cosmos of academic and creative work of queer Black filmmakers, artists, and scholars, this talk will outline memory performance to re-establish the temporal body. This talk will include a screening of How Those Who Were Sent Away Wept and Made a Plan, a short experimental film utilizing research, historical artifacts, and performance. Inspired by Ethiopian emperor Yohannes’ letter to Queen Victoria in 1872, requesting the return of stolen Ethiopian objects, the film looks at Ethiopian history and myth as it relates to Black diasporic identity and its representation in the archives.

Johanna Tesfaye is an artist, researcher, and therapist. Her creative and academic work utilizes film, sound media, art exhibition work, historical documents, and fiction/non-fiction text to synthesize historical narratives. Her focus is on Black temporal realities that interrogate the archive, re-imagining and documenting a cosmos of work, thought, and life in pursuit of alterity. Her work extends to numerous performance pieces and film experiments.

Sponsored by the Black Film Center & Archive.

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