May 9th 2021

The Impasse of Blackness: Interrogating the Possibility of Resolution

@ Block Museum of Art


Opening Sunday, May 9th, at 12 PM

On view through Sunday, May 16th


(Various Artists, 1988-2019, United Kingdom, digital, approx. 171 min)

Starting at 12 PM Central Time on May 9, “The Impasse of Blackness” will be available on the Block’s Eventive, including a discussion with filmmakers Ngozi Onwurah, Rabz Lansiquot, Imani Robinson, Ebun Sodipo, and curator Gervais Marsh (Northwestern doctoral candidate in the Department of Performance Studies). The program will be available to watch for a 7 day period with the option of closed captions.

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Bringing together feature-length and short films from the 1980s to the present, this program questions the possibility of resolution as it relates to the violence of anti-Blackness. Through their work, filmmakers Ngozi Onwurah, Ebun Sodipo, and the collective Languid Hands (Imani Robinson and Rabz Lansiquot) reckon with the afterlives of Trans-Atlantic slavery and colonialism, both in the U.K. and its “former” colonies. Drawing from a range of archival materials and narrative footage, the films interrogate the empty promises of progress, recognizing the constant onslaught of violence that impacts Black life. When the resolution of anti-Blackness is no longer viewed as a feasible outcome, ingrained in the structures of imperialist-capitalism, what otherwise possibilities does Black life turn to?

Content Warning:

In nuanced and difficult ways, each of these films grapples with forms of violence that too often target Black life. At a time when the circulation of images of violence against Black people has become a terrifying norm, it is important to center the wellbeing of viewers. Content from these films may be triggering, so please watch if you have emotional capacity, and step away to care for yourself whenever necessary. We are grateful to be able to hold the complexity of these films with the audience.


(Ngozi Onwurah, 1995, UK, 90 min, English)

Released in 1995, WELCOME II THE TERRORDOME connects the historical event of Igbo Landing to a dystopian future in which Black people are contained and surveilled. The film tackles the continued violence and disinvestment in Black communities in Britain, a particularly poignant critique during a period hailed for the “progress” of multiculturalism. Although Terrordome presents a bleak picture of Black life in the near-future U.K., the film both references centuries of historical oppression while resonating painfully in the present.

(Ngozi Onwurah, 1988, UK, 15 min, English)

Onwurah’s film COFFEE COLORED CHILDREN explores anti-Black discrimination against biracial children in the U.K. Tackling the psychic toll Black children face in navigating whiteness, the film recalls much of the pain Onwurah and her family experienced growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood in Britain.

(Ngozi Onwurah, 1994, UK, 20 min, English)

WHITE MEN ARE CRACKING UP is a short thriller that interrogates the relationship between the fetishization of Black women and white male insecurity. Masie Blue is portrayed as a Black Widow figure, under investigation by detective Margrave, who is determined to prove her involvement in the suicides of several successful white men. Delving into the paranoia of detective Margrave, the film complicates power dynamics and blurs the line between perception and reality.

[Languid Hands (Rabz Lansiquot, Imani Robinson), 2019, UK, 37 min, English]

Languid Hands’ film TOWARDS A BLACK TESTIMONY: PRAYER/PROTEST/PEACE draws from archival footage to think with expressions of testimony by Black people, both in the U.K. and other locations in the Black diaspora. In conversation with jazz drummer and composer Max Roach’s critical album “We Insist! Freedom Now Suite” (1960), the film composition frames Black testimony as a site of im/possibility, grappling with the nuanced relationships Black being often has with the concepts of truth, justice, empathy, the law, life, and death. Footage chosen by Lansiquot is weaved together with a performative speech written by Robinson.

(Ebun Sodipo, 2019, UK, 9 min, English)

Ebun Sodipo’s film AND THE SEAS BRING FORTH NEW LANDS brings together archival footage and a performance of original text to grapple with the interconnected precarity and joys of Black life. Footage combines clips from popular films, news broadcasts, social media platforms such as Vine, and fashion shows. Sodipo’s film reckons with the demands placed on Black existence while speculating on other ways of being adjacent to these violences. The soundscape knits together music from artists such as Blood Orange and Solange, along with Sodipo’s performed text.

For more information about the artists and event details, go to


“The Impasse of Blackness: Interrogating the Possibility of Resolution” is a program of experimental film from the UK, the third in a series of programs exploring the legacies and futures of Black British cinema, guest curated by Northwestern graduate students Gervais Marsh, Madison Ivory Alan-Lee, and Tyler Talbott.

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