Sugarcoated Arsenic, 2013, Kevin Jerome Everson und Claudrena N. Harold (©Kevin Jerome Everson & Claudrena N. Harold; courtesy the filmmakers; trilobite-arts DAC; Picture Palace Pictures)
Claudrena N. Harold
Kevin Jerome Everson (© Sandy Williams III)

Ev × Ha = Black Fire
Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena N. Harold

June 3 and 4, 2023

It started with sugar, not fire. Actually, it started with arsenic. Black arsenic is among the most common forms of the chemical element. It can be generated by cooling vapor, and it does not have a melting point. As such, a thousand infernos at standard pressure could not transform its material state – but two artists can.
Sugarcoated Arsenic is not a naturally occurring element but it is nevertheless normally present in an immaterial sense in our environment, wherever injustice occurs and must be swallowed, wherever inequity runs rampant. Sugarcoated Arsenic also represents the first historical-materialist film collaboration between Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena Harold, a work which inaugurated the series Black Fire – and which is also their first masterpiece. The two colleagues at the University of Virginia joined forces to examine and render visible the cultural life of Black students and workers at the highly regarded educational institution in the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st. The growing corpus of films they are composing stands as a unique cinematic monument to lives and legacies forged in that confounding crucible known as the United States of America.
Black Fire was an anthology of African-American writing edited by Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal and first published in 1968. The book is a seminal and rare source document for the Black Arts Movement and contains creative and critical works by Sonia Sanchez, Kwame Ture, Sun Ra and other legends of arts and letters. Everson and Harold are paying tribute to and continuing this tradition with their film series. We need a new anthology for Black thought and creativity in the 21st century. One of the first chapters is being inscribed on celluloid and encoded on video by these two brilliant alchemists. (Greg de Cuir Jr.)
With Kevin Jerome Everson, Claudrena N. Harold, and Greg de Cuir Jr. in attendance

In collaboration with Vienna Shorts and Blickle Kino at Belvedere 21
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