COMA is pleased to be screening Garrett Bradley’s short film AKA (2019), in the Darlinghurst exhibition space, from Friday, 17 March – 26 March, 2023.
A.K.A is the first in a trilogy of films about relationships between women, in this case relationships between mothers and daughters born into mixed-race families or families of the same race with varying skin tones. Like many of Garrett Bradley’s films, the experimental short developed out of hours-long conversations between Bradley and her female protagonists. She began with a series of questions regarding race, upward mobility, and the relationship between white women and black women, which the artist posed to friends, family, and on social media—an ongoing resource in her work. In one instance, one of Bradley’s subjects repeat-edly asked her mother, “Are you color struck?” The term, made famous by Zora Neal Hurston’s 1925 play of the same name, refers to the notion of “colorism,” which describes both interracial and intraracial forms of discrimi-nation based on the color of one’s skin. Bradley subsequently used the phrase to shape the visual and sonic land-scape of the film—specifically A.K.A.’s prismatic and shimmering effects, which contribute to the film’s halluci-natory and dreamlike atmosphere. Her dialogues with mothers and daughters would also determine much of the choreography and locations of scenes, articulating an approach to filmmaking that both honors and issues from the visions and voices of its subjects.
Garrett Bradley (b.1986, New York) is an American artist and filmmaker based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bradley’s multimedia work draws together broad themes of oppression and conflict with a particular emphasis on place and location. Across a body of moving-image productions that blend elements of documentary and fiction, cinema and video art, Bradley’s camera situates wider themes in the minute textures of the everyday, exploring her subjects’ struggles and dreams and rooting the sociopolitical in personal and physical experience. Her collaborative and research-based approach to filmmaking is often inspired by the real-life stories of her protagonists. For Bradley, this research takes multiple forms—deep dives into historical archives, in-depth dialogues prompted by Craigslist want-ads, or an extended engagement with the communities and individuals she lives with—and results in works that combine both scripted and improvisatory scenes. Bradley’s films explore the space between fact and fiction, embracing modes of working and of representing history that blur the boundaries between traditional notions of narrative and documentary cinema. Her rigorous explorations of the social, economic, and racial politics of everyday life—its joys, pleasures, and pains—are lyrically and intimately rendered on screen.