The Motion Picture Association for Maintaining Personal Ambivalence
Rashayla Marie Brown and Jamila Raegan
Each year movies or TV shows are released featuring minoritized characters in entirely predictable and depressing plotlines, often under the guise of “uplifting” a trans or POC character. However, given that they are made in the context of a white supremacist, hetero-patriarchal culture of Hollywood, this media generally relies upon a three-act structure,following a “hero’s journey” character development arc. When a minoritized subject is involved, they are often submitted to various forms of violence to ratchet up the drama including: imprisonment, murder, pseudo-pornographic portrayals of sexual violence, or self-sacrifice to allow the main protagonist to further their quest.
As an intervention into this mainstream culture that exploits Black and queer pain, Rashayla Marie Brown (RMB) proposes The Motion Picture Association for Maintaining Personal Ambivalence. Along with collaborator Jamila Raegan, RMB will fashion the Session gallery into an independent filmmaking space where underrepresented audiences can alter the traumatic endings of movies they want to love, but cannot bear to witness. Using the aesthetics of a 1950’s writers’ room and photographic studio replete with carefully curated props, The MPA for MPA offers local filmmakers, activists, artists, and the public a chance to convene for cinematic ideation conversations that lead to the co-creation of storyboards and photographic images through the lens of Black Femme Aesthetics.
RMB will host two public Writers’ Room Sessions to collectively evaluate a variety of plotlines in recent films, especially those embroiled in public controversy or a current event. These convenings–centering comfort, process, and joy–will focus on the collaborative ideation of alternative endings. RMB will hand-draw storyboards and display them in an archive that grows throughout the Session. These will be followed by two photoshoots in which participants will style, light, and potentially pose/act out select storyboard images that evoke new narrative possibilities.
The project will culminate in an art installation consisting of the hand-drawn storyboards and photographic still images that have been created and staged to give voice to people who are left out of the filmmaking process – the viewers.
RMB is also organizing a Work-in-Progress screening of her experimental documentary “Reality Is Not Good Enough” towards the end of her Session, date TBD. Beyond parody, the film is a sincere investigation of her mother’s failed attempt to become a reality TV star as well as RMB’s own failed attempt to redeem her experience as a filmmaker. It involves an all-POC and female crew, with producer Jennifer Reeder (Dir: Knives and Skin). This will be screened offsite at Metrograph Theater in Manhattan in collaboration with Alfreda’s Cinema, a micro-cinema project founded by Melissa Lyde in 2015 with a mission to screen films that celebrate Black and non-Black people of color.
On view: November 11, 2023–January 25, 2024
Marcela Torres and Assembly
September 14–November 10, 2023
KING COBRA and Hue Hallums