Feb 10th 2022


(Courtney Stephens, Pacho Velez; 2020; 69 min; DCP)

In-person: Courtney Stephens



Dozens of sections of the iconic wall that separated East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989 are now scattered throughout the United States, at government buildings, college campuses, private collections, and roadside diners. For The American Sector, directors Courtney Stephens and Pacho Velez spent 18 months traveling the country, filming these fragments and gathering impressions from the custodians, collectors, and tourists they encountered. At once a landscape essay, history lesson, and collective psychological portrait of the post-Cold War United States, The American Sector asks troubling and timely questions about the shifting relationship between monuments and ideology.

“An exemplary work of cinema as political action. A film that powerfully evokes the active presence of history in daily civic life—and reveals the politics that inhere in its commemoration. Yields extraordinary results through audacious methods.” — Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Co-director Courtney Stephens will appear in person for a post-film discussion.

The American Sector and film stills courtesy of Grasshopper Film



About the Exhibition

How has art been used to protest, process, mourn, and memorialize anti-Black violence within the United States?

Originating at Northwestern’s Block Museum of Art  A Site of Struggle explores how artists have engaged with the reality of anti-Black violence and its accompanying challenges of representation in the United States over a 100 + year period.

Images of African American suffering and death have constituted an enduring part of the nation’s cultural landscape, and the development of creative counterpoints to these images has been an ongoing concern for American artists. A Site of Struggle takes a new approach to looking at the intersection of race, violence, and art by investigating the varied strategies American artists have used to grapple with anti-Black violence, ranging from representation to abstraction and from literal to metaphorical. The exhibition focuses on works created between the 1890s and 2013—situating contemporary artistic practice within a longer history of American art and visual culture. It foregrounds African Americans as active shapers of visual culture and highlights how art has been used to protest, process, mourn, and memorialize anti-Black violence.

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