Ja'Tovia Gary, The Giverny Suite, 2019. Filmstills
Filmed in Harlem, New York, and in Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France, THE GIVERNY SUITE is a cinematic poem that advocates for the safety and bodily autonomy of Black women. Employing techniques including hand-painted film animation and montage editing, Gary first developed the work during an artist residency in Giverny, where the gardens offered a space of respite.
Centrally featured are person-on-the-street interviews in which the artist approaches women at the intersection of Lenox Avenue (also known as Malcolm X Boulevard) and West 116th Street and asks, “Do you feel safe?” These interviews are interspersed with footage of singer Nina Simone, performer Josephine Baker, political activist Fred Hampton, and Diamond Reynolds recounting the killing of her boyfriend Philando Castile by police in 2016. The installation also includes antique furniture as well as altars dedicated to the Yoruba deities Yemaya and Oshun. “Healing is at the root of the work,” Gary explains. “Making art is a transformative process that transmutes pain or trauma into something beautiful, useful, functional, instructive.”
Organized by Lilia Taboada and Gee Wesley, Curatorial Assistants, with Abby Hermosilla, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance.