Deborah Joyce Holman “Moment 2” Cordova Gallery / Barcelona

January 9, 2023

Moment 2 is a site-specific video installation by Deborah Joyce Holman. The film, nine hours in length, stars artist and performer Rebecca Bellantoni who tirelessly recites excerpts from Shirley Clarke’s charged 1967 film Portrait of Jason. Holman’s reinterpretation offers a meditation on the politics of portraiture and refusal.

The original film Portrait of Jason, which Moment 2 takes as source material, is an essential work of cinéma vérité, which filmmaker Shirley Clarke made by capturing the film’s protagonist Jason Holliday for twelve consecutive hours. In the film, edited down to 107 minutes, Holliday, a Black gay man, is at once vulnerable and knowing. He responds to the questions posed to him with ease and flamboyance, simultaneously pandering and performing to the audience and white filmmaker’s supposed ideas of him. For Moment 2, Holman’s interests lie in complicating the dynamic, temporality, gender and race relations present in the original version.

In this version a Black queer filmmaker films a Black woman in 2022, fifty-five years after the release of Portrait of Jason. This video, like much of Holman’s practice, questions ideas of representation, and critiques the incessant oversaturation of Black trauma portrayed in visual and popular culture as well as the insatiable consumption of it. This is instantiated by Portrait of Jason in the dynamic between Clarke and Holliday and with the film’s vast success with majority white audiences.

The script from Moment 2 was compiled of excerpts from the original, selected by Holman, which the protagonist recites over and over, seemingly ad infinitum. Rather than looping a shorter film, the performer herself recites the selected extracts in real time, resulting in a disorientating and quietly durational performance where each ‘loop’ is enacted in succession.

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