Kevin Jerome Everson

25 November, 2020 - 20:00
STUK, Leuven

“My work must project and reveal the materials, procedure and process. I believe that this approach is not necessarily important to be noticeable to the viewer; it merely explains how I continue to approach the craft of art making. I firmly believe that the materials of the work must be noticeable. Procedure is the formal quality I am exploring with the work. The process is the execution of the formal quality. Once I have a grasp of procedure, the process becomes a discipline.”

Material, procedure and process: for the artist-filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson, these three words define the core of his artistic approach. It is with this approach, grounded in an early preference for minimalism and a background in sculpture and street photography, that he knows like no other how to evoke the poetics of the lives and experiences of working-class African-American communities. Rather than pursuing conventional realism, he elects to abstract everyday expressions into theatrical gestures and to choreograph prosaic situations as artificial compositions. Rather than seeking a classical narrative form, he tends, more and more, towards pure abstraction.

Living and teaching in Virginia but born and raised in Mansfield, Ohio, as the child of parents who came from Mississippi during the Great Migration, Everson makes films that are inextricably linked to the socio-economic conditions and histories of the Midwest and South of the United States. The place-specific conditions of work, migration, language and culture form the primary material from which he derives his subjects, whereby he pays a great deal of attention to the concrete gestures and customs that are brought about by those conditions. From Taylorian labour rituals to Spartan sports exercises, from the agility of rodeo riders to the dexterity of street magicians, Everson focuses pre-eminently on the performative qualities expressed by gestures, expressions and interactions that all too often go unnoticed and undervalued. The films not only suggest the unrelenting cycle of everyday life but also the beauty, dignity and skill that lie within it. “The people on screen are always smarter than the viewer,” he notes, “so the viewer has to catch up.”

Everson’s esteem for work and craftsmanship can also be seen in his own artistic practice and work ethic. In over twenty years, he has produced a continuously growing body of work of more than 170 short films and a dozen full-length films, which time and again stand out for their exceptional care for the specificities of place, movement, speech and form. A look at the life of black communities near Lake Erie is organized as a structural composition (Erie), a portrait of polling stations in Charlottesville, Virginia, can be experienced as a “flicker film” (Tonsler Park), a demonstration of consumer products manufactured in Mansfield, Ohio, takes on the allure of a Kerry James Marshall painting (Westinghouse). Constantly juggling between reality and artificiality, materiality and narrativity, Everson displays an ever-increasing skill in the art that was once aptly described by another craftsman as “sculpting in time”.

 

In collaboration with CINEMATEK, with many thanks to Madeleine Molyneaux.

Eason

Kevin Jerome Everson
,
US
,
2016
,
HD
,
15'

Part of the one-hundred anniversary of the great Black migration in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Eason is loosely based on the life of James Walker Hood Eason (1886-1923) a long time member of the UNIA of Philadelphia.

The Reverend E. Randall T. Osborn, First Cousin

Kevin Jerome Everson
,
US
,
2007
,
HD
,
4'

One of Everson’s signature archival films that reveal the construction of performance and portrayal in a minimally edited interview with Martin Luther King’s first cousin about police brutality during race riots in Cleveland Ohio.

According to ...

Kevin Jerome Everson
,
US
,
2007
,
HD
,
9'

With a rich source of found and original footage, this short film presents several versions of tragic events in the rural South.

Second and Lee

Kevin Jerome Everson
,
US
,
2008
,
HD
,
3'

A cautionary tale about when not to run. It uses archival reportage and voiceover recollection to trace through repetitive corridors of presumption, justice and judgment.

Fe26

Kevin Jerome Everson
,
US
,
2013
,
HD
,
7'

Shot on 16mm in the summer of 2013, Fe26 follows two gentlemen around the East Side of Cleveland, Ohio, and examines the tensions between illegal work — in this case, the stealing of manhole covers and copper piping — and the basic survival tactics that exist in areas of high unemployment. The film features two local residents, Issac “I-Pleeza” Chester and Jonathan “Streets” Lee, previously seen in Rita Larson’s Boy/The Tombigbee Chronicles No. 2. As in Sound That, the buried suggests the relationship between what’s seen above ground and the elements taken for granted beneath the surface, in this instance, criminal deeds and activities. (KJE)

Ears, Nose & Throat

Kevin Jerome Everson
,
US
,
2016
,
HD
,
10'

In Kevin Jerome Everson’s deeply affecting Ears, Nose and Throat, a woman’s testimonial faculties are confirmed through medical examinations before she recites a tragic story, whose horrors we don’t see, hear, or smell, but can imagine far too easily.

IFO

Kevin Jerome Everson
,
US
,
2017
,
HD
,
10'

In Mansfield, Ohio, multiple UFO sightings yield both passionate firsthand accounts and detailed reflections; meanwhile, suburban youths raise their arms toward the heavens in becalmed surrender.

Hampton

Kevin Jerome Everson, Claudrena N. Harold
,
US
,
2019
,
HD
,
7'

Finds the University of Virginia gospel choir, Black Voices, returning from a triumphant concert in Hampton Roads.

Recovery

Kevin Jerome Everson
,
US
,
2020
,
HD
,
10'

About an Airman training to be a pilot at Columbus Air Force Base 14th Flying Training Wing in Columbus, Mississippi.