Tate Modern Film

Barbara McCullough: Shopping Bag, Spirits and Freeway Fetishes

Shopping Bag, Spirits and Freeway Fetishes: Reflections on Ritual Space

Barbara McCullough, USA 1981, video, 60 min

Featuring: David Hammons, Betye Saar, Houston and Kinshasha Conwill, N’Senga Nengudi, K. Curtis Lyle, Ojenke, Kamaau Da’oud and Kenneth Severin 

Shopping Bag, Spirits and Freeway Fetishes: Reflections on Ritual Space explores nine Los Angeles based artists reflecting on ritual in their life and art. Artist David Hammons discusses the role of chance and improvisation in his work while working on sculpture on a waste site while N’Senga Nengudi talks about staging her performances in freeway underpasses. Spanning performance to spoken word, environmental sculpture to music each artist talks about how ritual and cultural traditions informs their work. This experimental essay intercuts interviews, documentation and photographs with the music of Don Cherry seeking to adjust the criteria and language used to talk about artists of colour. 

Barbara McCullough was one of the key figures bridging visual arts and cinema at UCLA, experimenting with film and video to create a unique body of work fusing her interest in performance and ritual with feminist and post-colonial theory. The influential experimental filmmaker Shirley Clarke taught video workshops at UCLA and inspired range of artists such as McCullough and Ben Caldwell to explore new technology. Shopping Bags is a result of these varying influences whose inventive form matches it’s expansive and far reaching inquiry. 

Black Art, Black Artists

Elyseo J. Taylor, USA 1971, 16mm, colour, 16 min 

Tracing the under documented history of art made by black artists since the 19th Century, this essay film explores the demands and criteria imposed on artists to confirm to established tastes and histories. Featuring artist Van Slater, the film was made by the highly influential theorist Elyseo J. Taylor, one of the first black teachers at UCLA who helped to politicise the department, bringing in Third World Cinema programme and helped to open up the school to a more diverse student body.

Programme duration: 76 min

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Starr Cinema

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Date & Time

12 April 2015 at 17.30–19.00