EMPAC’s Other Uses Series Continues with Filmmaker Ulysses Jenkins

Troy, NY — On Monday, March 26, at 7PM, the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute presents the next event in its yearlong film series Other Uses. Focused on the work of filmmaker Ulysses Jenkins, the event will feature documentary and performance videos the artist made from the 1970s to the present. Jenkins will be making a rare East Coast appearance to introduce his films and discuss his work with the audience.

Ulysses Jenkins is a video/performance artist whose work is known for its consideration and critique of the portrayal of Black men in America, especially within the medium of television. Adopting the role of a “video griot,” Jenkins draws upon the inspiration of the African oral tradition in videos that are often structured around music and poetic recitation, as well as dynamic performances. Jenkins was introduced to video just as the first consumer cameras were made available to individuals, and he quickly seized upon the television technology as a means to broadcast alternative depictions of African American culture and call to Black filmmakers to control their subject-hood by controlling the media depicting them.

He is a three-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts’ individual artist fellowship and was awarded the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame first place award in the experimental video category in 1990 and 1992. He is currently Professor of Art at University of California, Irvine.

Part of an East Coast retrospective of Jenkins’ work that includes events at Electronic Arts Intermix (New York) and Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), the EMPAC appearance comes in the context of the Other Uses film series, a yearlong screening series that aims to re-frame objects, places, histories, and people that might otherwise remain offscreen. The event will include Jenkins’ Secrecy: Help Me to Understand (1994), Mass of Images (1979), Inconsequential Doggereal (1981), Vulnerable (2000), Planet X (2006), and Part II of Remnants of the Watts Festival (1972-73), a short documentary on the event staged to bring positive focus to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles in the wake of the 1965 Watts Riots.

The Other Uses film series will draw to a close on April 26 with a final screening featuring filmmakers Jorge JácomeNaeem Mohaiemen, and Beatriz Santiago Muñoz.

For more information, please visit empac.rpi.edu.

The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is where the arts, sciences, and technology interact with and influence each other by using the same facilities and technologies, and by breathing the same air. EMPAC hosts artists and researchers to produce and present new work in a building designed with sophisticated architectural and technical infrastructure. Four exceptional venues and studios enable audiences, artists, and researchers to inquire, experiment, develop, and experience the ever-changing relationship between ourselves, technology, and the worlds we create around us. EMPAC is an icon of the New Polytechnic, a new paradigm for cross-disciplinary research and learning at Rensselaer, the nation’s oldest technological research university.

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