Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2020

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The 16th edition will take place online from Thursday 17 September to Sunday 11 October 2020. All access passes are available to buy online for £7.50. Download the BFMAF 2020 catalogue here!

Kat Anderson: Restraint Restrained

Available online

17 September – 11 October, 2020

This programme contains 2 films.

Artist and filmmaker Kat Anderson presents the world festival premiere of ‘Restraint Restrained’. The programme features two films from Anderson’s first solo exhibition. The works draw on the experiences and narratives of the many mentally ill Black people who have met their deaths in police custody or mental health facilities, through excessive restraint holds and other violent and negligent behaviours. ‘Restraint Restrained’ references the central premise of Frantz Fanon’s essay ‘Concerning Violence’, in which he claims that in order for the decolonisation of indigenous land to happen, a total and violent purging of the colonisers by the indigenous people must occur. Anderson repurposes this idea to consider how the contemporary Black mind and body, as a ‘colonised space’, is processed through public health and police institutions; understanding such authorities as embodiments and enforcers of structural white supremacy.

‘Restraint Restrained’ was commissioned by Block336 and Black Cultural Archives and supported by Arts Council England, Elephant Trust, LUX and Spike Island.

In this Programme:

John

(Kat Anderson, 2019, 30 mins)

Roundtable Conversation

(Kat Anderson, 2019, 66 mins)

John

(2019, 30 mins)

John tells the story of a young male, a psychiatric hospital patient who witnesses the death of another Black male patient at the hands of white staff. Blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction, this work draws from real life cases of Black mentally ill men who have died as a result of excessive force of the State.

On a split screen, a man writhes on a wooden bed. The man moves from the bed—in a dark room lit by a fluorescent light—revealing a red smear of what looks like blood on the wall. John moves out of this room, through a hallway illuminated by white light, and emerges into a communal space—a recreation room of sorts. Utilising the stylised tropes of horror films, Anderson depicts the mental health unit in which John is in as a cold and harsh place.

Other people populate this shared space. Patients and staff are distinguished by the differences in their pastel clothing. John watches two other Black men as they sit and talk, but he doesn’t join their conversation. The screen goes black and John’s nightmare resumes, as he is back again once more, writhing on his bed. Amidst this loop, tears gather in John’s eyes, as another Black man in the room is put in a hold by the staff. As John runs away, he finds another room: a solace. A group of people sit on chairs chanting, “come the light, come the hope.” Hands grip his own in a handshake and smiling faces approach him, welcoming him. Illuminating this stark contrast, warm tones radiate outward, and hands come together on John’s head—an act of care, of healing and protection. It is through this ritual that John is given power and he returns to the room of before—where he saw a man restrained—holding his fist high in resistance.

Elements of the soundscape bring the film back to genre, too: a low buzz is punctuated by cold metallic clangs, shakes of percussion, heavy bass—a near constant pulsating of an eerie variety. A disembodied voice seems to address the universal “you” in a monologue reminiscent of Frantz Fanon.

In framing the work through the lens of this clinical world of horror, Anderson is able to communicate nuance in a depiction of pain. Using a genre and visual language where violence is expected, an act of violence can be brought into a fictionalised focus and remove a layer of reality from it. How does one gesture to the very real violence that people suffer from without inflicting more harm? —Myriam Mouflih

Kat Anderson (UK) is an artist and filmmaker. She studied Fine Art at the University of West England and Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. She is currently working under an artistic and research framework entitled ‘Episodes of Horror’, which uses the genre of horror to discuss representations of mental illness and trauma as experienced by or projected upon Black bodies in media. Anderson has co-curated ‘Jamaican Pulse: Art and Politics from Jamaica and the Diaspora’ at the Royal West of England Academy. She has previously been commissioned by the KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin) and has been an artist-in-residence at METAL Liverpool, as part of its Liverpool Biennial programme to look at the historic and contemporary mental health of Black people living in the city. Her first solo exhibition ‘Restraint Restrained’ opened in 2019 at Block 336.

Filmography

Bad Man Nuh Flee (2020), Roundtable Conversation (2019), John (2019), Gestures (2018)

Director

Kat Anderson

World Festival Premiere
SDH Captions

Production Country

United Kingdom

Production Year

2019

Duration

30 mins

Dialogue Language

English

Print Contact

Kat Anderson

Roundtable Conversation

(2019, 66 mins)

In Roundtable Conversation, Anderson brings together family members of Black men who have died in police custody or psychiatric units; mental health and legal professionals; activists and artists who reflect on violence as it relates to institutional racism. Through their discussion, the people gathered round the table communicate what needs to be done in order to free the Black mind.

Roundtable Conversation is a companion piece to Anderson’s film John. It shows a group of people sitting round a table as they discuss various forms of institutional racism. As the conversation continues, the connections between those seated around the table become clearer as references to how they know each other filter through: these people are the family members of Black men who have died in police custody or psychiatric units; mental health and legal professionals; activists and artists.

Reflecting on the film in which they have been part of, those sat round the table discuss institutional racism and the hostile environment as policy, but the psychological consequences of this are felt too. Emotional impact is intoned through voices, facial expressions, breathing. The reverberations of violence and of trauma are felt not just in the bodies of those it is inflicted upon, but through their loved ones too. But it is not just individualised actions that inflict this, but being other in a world where white supremacy reigns.

And yet within this roundtable space, Anderson is able to enact a space of healing, where the discussants’ shared experience puts them in solidarity with each other. Community care is felt through this action—of allowing people to openly speak about the work that they have done, that they continue to do, in resisting institutional racism in its different forms. In this space, much like in John, the participants play a role in imagining the liberation of the Black mind, through resistance and through speaking truth to power. —Myriam Mouflih

Kat Anderson (UK) is an artist and filmmaker. She studied Fine Art at the University of West England and Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. She is currently working under an artistic and research framework entitled ‘Episodes of Horror’, which uses the genre of horror to discuss representations of mental illness and trauma as experienced by or projected upon Black bodies in media. Anderson has co-curated ‘Jamaican Pulse: Art and Politics from Jamaica and the Diaspora’ at the Royal West of England Academy. She has previously been commissioned by the KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin) and has been an artist-in-residence at METAL Liverpool, as part of its Liverpool Biennial programme to look at the historic and contemporary mental health of Black people living in the city. Her first solo exhibition ‘Restraint Restrained’ opened in 2019 at Block 336.

Filmography

Bad Man Nuh Flee (2020), Roundtable Conversation (2019), John (2019), Gestures (2018)

Director

Kat Anderson

World Festival Premiere
SDH Captions

Production Country

United Kingdom

Production Year

2019

Duration

66 mins

Dialogue Language

English

Print Contact

Kat Anderson