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Ja’Tovia Gary, An Ecstatic Experience, 2015, 16 mm film transferred to HD video, color, sound, 6 minutes. From “An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017.”

“An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017”

Whitney Museum of American Art

Ja’Tovia Gary, An Ecstatic Experience, 2015, 16 mm film transferred to HD video, color, sound, 6 minutes. From “An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017.”

Ja’Tovia Gary’s An Ecstatic Experience, 2015, is modestly tucked in the final room of “An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017,” which was organized by the museum’s David Breslin, Jennie Goldstein, and Rujeko Hockley. But even before you see the video screen, you hear the steady beat of its a cappella version of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” This six-minute video—one of the most genuinely moving artworks I’ve seen in recent years—intercuts footage from the “Slavery” segment of a nine-episode 1965 television miniseries called The History of the Negro People with contemporary images of protests in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of killings of black men by police. In the excerpts of the program used by Gary, actress Ruby Dee narrates the story of former slave Fannie Moore. Gary has added hand-drawn effects

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