Rashayla Marie Brown in Collaboration with Jamila Raegan: The Motion Picture Association for Maintaining Personal Ambivalence

April 2 – May 6, 2022

Due to the process-based nature of the Session program, The MPA for MPA will undergo constant modifications; the features of this page provide accruing information on the project’s developments.

Ways to Experience the Project

Events are subject to change. With the exception of drop-in hours, we ask the public to reserve a time online for one or more of the following public engagements. Since slots are limited, we ask that visitors commit to attending and cancel in advance if their plans change. All events are free unless otherwise noted.

 

Film Screening | Reality is Not Good Enough (work in progress, 22min, 2021)
Sunday, May 1, 2 pm ET

*Offsite Program* Metrograph Theater | 7 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

Beyond parody, Reality is Not Good Enough is a sincere investigation of the filmmaker’s mother and her failed attempt to become a reality TV star, as well as Brown’s attempt to redeem her experience as a film director.

Followed by an in-person discussion with the director, Rashayla Marie Brown (RMB), this program celebrates the life of film curator Michelle Materre.

Get Tickets ($12) 

Studio Visit
Thursdays and Fridays April 7- 29, 4-8 pm

Meet RMB to learn about her practice and watch clips of film works in progress. Visitors can also have the artist storyboard an image of a movie whose ending they would like to change. You can come anytime within the 2-hour window you reserve, and each block will be limited to 15 persons for safety reasons.

Register for a Studio Visit

Writer’s Room Session (2hr session + optional post-session hangout)
Saturdays April 9th & 16th, 2-4 pm

Communal writing sessions that are co-led by Sundance fellows and local video artists Ryah Aqel and Chanelle Aponte Pearsonto rewrite alternative endings to moving pictures. No prior film experience is needed. We will approach narrative character arcs with a trauma-informed perspective in a comfortable seating arrangement within the installation itself. Please bring names of films or TV shows you wish to change.

Register for a Writer’s Room Session

Photography Session (2hr session + optional post-session hangout)
Saturdays April 23rd & 30th, 2-4pm

Participate in indoor or outdoor photography, acting either as models or as set designers, led by RMB, Jamila and local artists Tiffany Smith and Shala Miller to re-stage alternative endings of films created in the Writer’s Room.

Register for a Photography Session

Drop by for MPA for MPA’s Closing Celebration
Friday May 6, 5-8pm

Revel in the exhibition of photographs and storyboards of collaboratively imagined alternative movie endings while listening to a collected compilation of iconic and obscure movie and tv soundtracks. Musicians and film composers will be invited for an impromptu Jam Session, and project ephemera will be given away.

RSVP suggested but not required

Register for the Closing Celebration

The MPA for MPA

Visiting Hours:

Engagements with the Artists by Appointment Only

Thursday & Friday,  4:00pm – 8:00pm

Saturday, 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

To make an appointment, please sign up no later than 10 am the same day at recessartscheduling.as.me 

Visitors (age 5+) must show proof of vaccination upon arrival to Recess. Please be prepared to check in at the front desk to show your proof of vaccination. Per the city guidelines, we accept the NYC Covid Safe App (Android and iOS), Excelsior Pass, CDC Vaccination Card (or photo), NYC Vaccination Record, or an official immunization record from outside NYC or the US. KN95, or N95, or KF94 Masks (age 2+) are required for all visitors, one will be provided if other types of mask are worn.

 

Each year movies or TV shows are released featuring minoritized characters in entirely predictable and depressing plotlines, often under the guise of “uplifting” a trans or POC character. However, given that they are made in the context of a white supremacist, hetero-patriarchal culture of Hollywood, this media generally relies upon a three-act structure,following a “hero’s journey” character development arc. When a minoritized subject is involved, they are often submitted to various forms of violence to ratchet up the drama including: imprisonment, murder, pseudo-pornographic portrayals of sexual violence, or self-sacrifice to allow the main protagonist to further their quest. 

As an intervention into this mainstream culture that exploits Black and queer pain, Rashayla Marie Brown (RMB) proposes The Motion Picture Association for Maintaining Personal Ambivalence. Along with collaborator Jamila Raegan, RMB will fashion the Session gallery into an independent filmmaking space where underrepresented audiences can alter the traumatic endings of movies they want to love, but cannot bear to witness. Using the aesthetics of a 1950’s writers’ room and photographic studio replete with carefully curated props, The MPA for MPA offers local filmmakers, activists, artists, and the public a chance to convene for cinematic ideation conversations that lead to the co-creation of storyboards and photographic images through the lens of Black Femme Aesthetics.

RMB will host two public Writers’ Room Sessions to collectively evaluate a variety of plotlines in recent films, especially those embroiled in public controversy or a current event.  These convenings–centering comfort, process, and joy–will focus on the collaborative ideation of alternative endings. RMB will hand-draw storyboards and display them in an archive that grows throughout the Session. These will be followed by two photoshoots in which participants will style, light, and potentially pose/act out select storyboard images that evoke new narrative possibilities. 

The project will culminate in an art installation consisting of the hand-drawn storyboards and photographic still images that have been created and staged to give voice to people who are  left out of the filmmaking process – the viewers.  

RMB is also organizing a Work-in-Progress screening of her experimental documentary “Reality Is Not Good Enough” towards the end of her Session, date TBD. Beyond parody, the film is a sincere investigation of her mother’s failed attempt to become a reality TV star as well as RMB’s own failed attempt to redeem her experience as a filmmaker. It involves an all-POC and female crew, with producer Jennifer Reeder (Dir: Knives and Skin). This will be screened offsite at Metrograph Theater in Manhattan in collaboration with Alfreda’s Cinema, a micro-cinema project founded by Melissa Lyde in 2015 with a mission to screen films that celebrate Black and non-Black people of color. 

The MPA or MPA is part of Recess’s program, Session, which invites artists to use Recess’s public platform to combine productive studio space with dynamic exhibition opportunities. Sessions remain open to the public from the first day of the artist’s project through the last, encouraging sustained dialogue between artists and audiences. Due to the process-based nature of Session, projects undergo constant revision and the above proposal is subject to change.

 About the Artists

Rashayla Marie Brown (aka Professor RMB) is an “undisciplinary” artist, rejecting the formality of institutional artmaking in favor of a practice that questions the hierarchies these labels allow to persist. Working principally in performance, installation, writing, filmmaking and photography, while drawing from a background as a DJ, graphic designer and spoken word artist, her work considers what historical narratives omit. A lifelong nomad who has moved 24 times, RMB regularly travels to assess the impact of art institutions internationally. Her works and words have been featured in publications and galleries internationally including Art Forum; Embassy of Foreign Artists, Geneva; Hyperallergic; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art; Performa Magazine; QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking; Rhodes College, Memphis; Tate Modern, London; and Turbine Hall, Johannesburg. Previously, RMB founded the graphic design firm Selah Vibe, Inc. (2004-2011) and served as the inaugural Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2013-2017). She is currently completing her Ph.D. in Performance Studies at Northwestern University in collaboration with the Isaac Julien Lab at UC-Santa Cruz.

 

Jamila Raegan is an interdisciplinary artist whose work addresses inequity and violence, a marker of her personal and cultural experiences. She most often creates sculptures and environments to provide a space for mourning and collective healing. Her practice is material-centered, which includes: familial relationships, ancestors, hybrid belief systems, plant cultivation, and preservation through sculpture, performance, and installation. Raegan studied photography and Pan-African Studies at the University of Louisville and later served as a founding board member and arts educator at Extreme Kids and Crew, a not-for-profit arts organization for children and families with special needs in New York City. She completed her BFA in Studio Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2020. Currently residing in Brooklyn, New York, Raegan has focused more recently on film and video work, collaboration, and painting.

 

Recess is supported, in part, by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The Art for Justice Fund; The Pinkerton Foundation; ELMA Philanthropies; The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; The Tikkum Olam Foundation; The Visionary Freedom Fund of Common Counsel Foundation; The National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council; Prospect Hill Foundation; The Salomon Foundation; The Horace Goldsmith Foundation; VIA Fund; New York Community Trust; ArtMatters; Frank E. Clark Charitable Trust. In-kind support is provided by Materials for the Arts.