Happy New Year, everyone!
Cinemulatto had a few epiphanies during the last quarter of 2012 having to do with identity, history, family, and creativity, chief among them “discovering” a part of my mother, Dorothy Breaux, after finally watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s (her favorite movie). This and related topics will be covered in future Cinemulatto posts. We thought it fitting, however, to have our first post of 2013 focus primarily on art and the mother-daughter relationship, as seen through the aesthetic lens of artist Lezley Saar.
With a rich and diverse history that includes public radio, book cover design, photography, ink drawing, and other forms of visual expression, Lezley Saar’s work spans over 40 years. She’s collaborated with such authors as Ishmael Reed and her work has been featured in numerous art forums. Cinemulatto asked her a few questions about her most recent installation and the state of the Mulatto Nation.
You recently had an exhibition, Madwoman in the Attic, at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery in Los Angeles. How did this project come about?
My exhibition was actually inspired by my daughter, Sola. She did her thesis at Berkeley on a comparison of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story, The Yellow Wallpaper, and Lars von Trier’s film, Antichrist. So I decided to do portraits of insane heroines from Gothic 19th century novels. The installation portion of my show, “Madness and the Gaze,” explores the phantoms of 19th century “feminine afflictions” such as melancholia and hysteria.
What are some movies you’ve seen recently and how did they affect you?
I recently saw Lars von Trier’s film, The Five Obstructions. Apologies for mentioning him again, but this is a great film where von Trier demands that Jørgen Leth remake his classic film, The Perfect Human, five times, while obeying these ridiculous criteria and restrictions. It helped me with my approach to my work by incorporating certain “obstacles” to encourage new ideas.
What are some subjects or areas you feel you have yet to explore?
My next show will deal with Mysticism and the Occult mixed with Afrofuturism of the 1970s. I am very interested in Madame Blavatsky and Sun Ra from an historic sense as well as the future. I feel the Mulatto Nation should explore new galaxies.
What would you include in an address on the State of the Mulatto Nation?
You know, it’s interesting how with a Mulatto president, how little the subject of mixed race is discussed. But of course it’s amazing right? I believe the Mulatto Nation has to propel itself into the future by embracing duality, contradiction, hybridism, and the ether. And remember, “Mulattos are always half right!”
How is Baby Halfie Brown Head?
MULATTO OF THE MONTH: BOB MARLEY
In anticipation of future blog posts concerning Dorothy Breaux (born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1929), we thought we’d go back in time to trash a few silly Jamaican stereotypes and perhaps create new ones. These explorations will be devoid of the words “mon” and “Irie”.
Tuff Gong is reggae’s best-selling artist and Jamaica’s most famous son. People the world over are familiar with his songs of liberation and struggle, and yet his dreadlocked image is a far cry from the social structure my mother experienced from 1929 through her arrival in the U.S. in 1962. In other words, my mom and her sisters didn’t like people like Bob Marley and weren’t all about ganja and skank (for better or worse). Regardless, this month we honor the most acclaimed icon of his hurricane-prone, balmy island country.