Installation view of Projects: Garrett Bradley, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, November 21, 2020 – March 21, 2021. Digital Image © 2020 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Robert Gerhardt.

Memories for the Future

Garrett Bradley’s America inspires and challenges us to play an active role in making and telling our stories.
Ravon Ruffin Jan 20, 2021

How can what was lost or left behind be transformed into visual and sonic form, to be preserved for the future?

America (2019), a multichannel video installation by artist and filmmaker Garrett Bradley, is an imaginative remembrance of Black figures from the early 20th century through 12 black-and-white vignettes interspersed with footage from the unreleased Lime Kiln Club Field Day (1914), believed to be the oldest surviving feature-length film with an all-Black cast. America is also a sonic exploration set to a score by artist Trevor Mathison and sound designer Udit Duseja, which reminds us of the importance of sound to conjure memories. Themes of loss, absence, and recovery permeate America, and echo through the events of this past year.

Developed in conjunction with the exhibition Projects: Garrett Bradley, the program series Memories for the Future invites you to reimagine histories lost or left behind through visual storytelling and scoring workshops. You can register below.

Participate in a live workshop
In collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem, Memories for the Future kicks off on Saturday, January 23, with filmmakers, composers, sound artists, and other visual storytellers who offer techniques in filmmaking and scoring to help participants create their own vignettes. Bradley’s film addresses absence in the archives, the gaps that exist in American historical narratives, and more personally, in our own memories. As part of Memories for the Future, fill the gaps in the archives with the histories of those past or memories you wish to preserve for the future.

Memories for the Future: Scoring Workshop will be led by Mathison and Duseja, alongside artists Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste and Ari Melenciano.
Memories for the Future: Visual Storytelling Workshops will be facilitated by artists and filmmakers Jeannette Rodríguez Píneda and Jazmin Jones.

In collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem, Teen Programs will also invite teen participants from both institutions to think through Bradley’s work, learn about archives, and create new works for a showcase with Bradley. The Studio Museum will also partner with Restart Academy, an alternative education program that provides transitional services for students ages 13 through 21, and students will take part in Memories for the Future by focusing on the investigation of memory, storytelling, and place-making.

Participants from each of the Memories for the Future workshops will have the chance to submit their vignette to be screened at a live public program with Garrett Bradley on March 18.

Create your own vignette at home
For those who cannot attend one of the live workshops, we encourage you to create your own vignette. You can soon find a meditative curriculum and do-it-yourself guide here, which will provide a place to start with techniques for how to record and produce a short experimental film. “I see America as a template for how visual storytelling and the assembly of images can serve as an archive of the past and a document of the present,” Bradley explained. Using your personal archives—photos, videos, and voice memos—as a starting point, what stories or memories do you want to call forth and recognize? How can you give that memory an image? What might it sound like?