[Chicago Crossings: Bridges and Boundaries, reel 22; Edith Altman]

chicago-crossings-bridges-boundaries-reel-22-edith-altman

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In a stream-of-consciousness-style interview with Kartemquin Films, artist Edith Altman talks about the role of the "scapegoat" in Black and Jewish history, the role of art in society, bigotry and the possibility for forgiveness, the "Black holocaust," and her upcoming piece, "How Shall we Teach our Children?"

1:04Copy video clip URL Edith Altman talks about the history of the symbol of the goat as a scapegoat—a common theme in her body of work—and how Blacks and Jews can unite in their shared experience as the scapegoat.

4:44Copy video clip URL Altman posits a question that she herself has pondered for a long time: “Can art make any difference at all? Can it heal? Can it have a function in our society to make change?”

5:30Copy video clip URL Altman questions whether or not—regarding the issue of bigotry—there is such thing as an “innocent bystander,” referring back to a conversation had at the artists’ last meeting. “For me, indifference is bigotry,” says Altman.

6:27Copy video clip URL Altman talks about the idea of forgiveness for acts of bigotry, referencing the ideas of famed writer and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel.

10:12Copy video clip URL Altman talks about the sad tendency of the quotes she uses in her artwork to continuously take up new, different meanings; focusing here on a quote which originally was used in reference to violence towards Jews in Germany that now applies to police brutality towards minorities.

11:33Copy video clip URL Altman alludes to an Illinois Assembly meeting in which the word “holocaust” was mentioned in reference to the “Black holocaust,” in which “100 million Black Africans… had died, that had been squeezed on the boats, the children and the adults, just like the Jews were squeezed in the trains. I share with them, unfortunately, the holocaust,” Altman says. She seems briefly choked up.

12:56Copy video clip URL Altman illustrates the role of the video element in her piece.

15:53Copy video clip URL Audio tests.

17:40Copy video clip URL B-roll footage of an image in Altman’s studio.

 

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