SOAS University of London

Centre for Global Media and Communications

When I grow up I want to be a black man

Jyoti Mistry

Date: 29 November 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 29 November 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G3

Type of Event: Seminar

This evening’s seminar will involve both a film screening and a presentation.

Film screening

When I grow up I want to be a black man

(Jyoti Mistry, 2017, 10:40 mins, Diptych)

Film synopsis

A black man runs through a field.

A black man runs on the beach.

A black man runs through a city.

The black man is always running, he is always chased, he is always running…

Running to save his life 

A black man runs towards freedom.

The script for ‘alphabet of violence’ and ‘alphabet of freedom’ was developed in collaboration with Kgafela oa Magogodi, a spoken-word artist, musician and playwright-director. The approach was to capture a visceral vocabulary of violence that also embraced the street and/or colloquial and the corporeality of violence on black subjects. Words-spoken and expressed in rhythm and with repetition by Magogodi produces in the mind’s eye images of violence that is denied in the visual representation shown on the screens. On the other hand, the language of freedom resists fortified terms; those proselytized by liberation movements. Instead words that pulse with possibilities of freedoms imagined and enlivening. Freedom in this alphabet is not an abstract construct but made tactile; tangible and physical – embodied as a state of being: with the freedom to float and with the lightness for flight.

 About the Filmmaker/Speaker:

Jyoti Mistry is a filmmaker and Associate Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in the Wits School of Arts. She has taught at New York University; University of Vienna; Arcada University of Applied Science Polytechnic in Helsinki and ALLE Arts School at University of Addis Ababa. Mistry has been an invited guest to teaching institutions internationally and to artist in residence programmes at Netherlands Film Academy (Amsterdam), at California College of Arts (San Francisco), SACATAR (Brazil) and NIROX Foundation (Johannesburg) and was a visiting scholar at the HFF Film School in Babelsburg (Germany).

Mistry’s artistic practice moves seamlessly between filmmaking and installation art practices. She has made critically acclaimed narrative, documentary and experimental films. Mistry's installation work draws from cinematic traditions but is often re-contextualized for galleries and museums that are outside of the linear cinematic experience. 

Mistry has also published widely on the topics of multiculturalism, identity politics, race and memory. Her books include: ‘we remember differently: Race, Memory, Imagination’ (2012) a collection of essays inspired by her film in which explores the complexity of racial identity in South Africa and is published by UNISA Press. ‘Gaze Regimes: Films and Feminisms in Africa’ (2015) co-edited with Antje Schuhmann is published by Wits University Press.