After Before

2005
Single-channel video installation
Video, color, sound
Dimensions variable
44 mins

After Before is a quasi-fictional, quasi-documentary video project in which two central figures investigate the pronouncement and production of “public opinion” by interviewing people on the streets of New York City throughout the month of September 2004, just two months before the 2004 US Presidential Elections. In After Before New York City acts as an example of the nation, and as an example, the city is both enveloped into the identity of “America” and removed from it. The piece engages and disrupts the curious temporality intrinsic to the singular moment of an election: a single day, much anticipated, which then shapes the future of the nation.

Given the deep distrust that resulted from the presidential election of 2000 and the stark divisions caused by the Bush administration’s response to September 11th , 2001, including the war and occupation of Iraq, the 2004 U.S. election is seen by some as a moment of truth, others as a moment of possibility, and others as an already determined fate–a non-moment. In each instance, it is a moment onto which contested ideas of what it means to be a U.S. citizen are actively projected. After Before is motivated not by a desire to “document” this moment but to utilize it to step fully into the debate. It is motivated not by the promise of “truth-telling” nor by the journalistic imperative for sound bites but from an awareness of the mainstream media’s manipulation of the plurality of voices, opinions, and positions present in the population of the U.S. Too often than not, under the guise of “examining both sides, “ this plurality is presented in the oppositions of left or right, for or against, that manage to cancel out both positions.

After Before does not claim objective or neutral information gathering but rather posits a process of research that is decidedly subjective, invested, and activist. By creating a research project that is at once fiction and material reality, the project is interested in provoking questions beyond “who will you vote for,” questions that mine the already existing gaps between our sense of civic participation and our lived experience, between rhetoric and fact, prediction and actuality, prophesy and curse.

Production Credits:
Performers: Kemba Bloodworth, Ewa Einhorn
Additional Camera: Ashley Hunt, Taisha Paggett
Production Assistant: Ditte Lyngkaer Pedersen