History and New Futures

  • Kelly Gallagher (I)

HD digital, 16 x 9, 2.5 minutes, 2020.

Artist Statement

Synopsis: A short experimental documentary about the site of a former stop on the Underground Railroad, the erasure of history, and what we owe those who came and struggled before us.

This submission is a short film about how our present moment and struggle is tied to the past (the history of the oppressed) and how remembering the struggles of the past is *imperative* (so that the history of the oppressed is not lost to oblivion) and so that it can energize us like a powder keg to engage in the anti-capitalist and abolitionist struggle today. As Walter Benjamin says, remembering is not alone enough though, we must also redeem (fight to free) those who have struggled before us. I use a local history as my grounding for this abolitionist exploration. Our present is linked to the past and we owe those who fought so hard in the past for abolition as we continue their struggle today.

Artist Bio

Kelly Gallagher is a filmmaker, animator, and Assistant Professor of Film at Syracuse University. Her award-winning films and commissioned animations have screened internationally at venues including: Museum of Modern Art, The National Gallery of Art, Sundance Film Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, Anthology Film Archives, SXSW, and International Film Festival Rotterdam. She’s presented solo programs of her work at institutions including: SFMOMA, Close-Up Cinema London, SF Cinematheque, and Wexner Center for the Arts among others. Kelly enthusiastically organizes and facilitates inclusive film workshops, camps, and masterclasses for communities and groups of all ages.

Many of her films often ask questions about topics of left revolutionary history. Other films serve as confrontations themselves, resistance made visual. Her work is interested in both explorations: film as a tool to re-open, re-discuss, re-discover forgotten or untold histories, and film as a tool of confrontation. Several works also explore the deeply personal, and are more essayistic. 

Kelly believes that film/video and animation hold an important space of potentiality for artists who want to create visualizations of resistance to racism, exploitation, capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, and colonialism. By creating visualizations of resistance in her films, she seeks to offer visual sparks of encouragement and hope to those engaged in struggle. When she first saw Lizzie Borden’s beautifully radical film “Born in Flames”, she felt encouraged by the women on screen fighting back against sexual harassers. She felt connected to them through their confrontations and struggles. Film as confrontation and visualized resistance is imperative for Kelly in her work because by creating visualized representations of a world in which our impact actually ruptures capitalism and systemic patriarchy and racism, we are given the realization that such a world can even in fact exist and that our political efforts are not in vain, but are in fact imperative. More at https://purpleriot.com/.