Steffani Jemison: Maniac Chase, Escaped Lunatic, and Personal
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design - 2015
Steffani Jemison’s videos Maniac Chase (2008–2009), Escaped Lunatic (2010–2011), and Personal (2014) use common styles of choreography and film and video production in uncommon ways. The works manipulate chronology, duration, and character psychology to create visual and narrative metaphors for the contemporary Black American experience, and for perceived and actual social progress.
Maniac Chase and Escaped Lunatic were created in response to Jemison’s study of the chase genre, which originated in the first decade of 20th-century film. Both videos use repetition and subtle differences in action and shooting styles to depict a series of vignettes in which identically dressed individuals chase one another through urban landscapes.
Personal employs similar editorial and stylistic devices—static camera shots, long-duration single shots, and nuanced ambient sounds—subtly and at times obliquely pushing these conventions to disorient the viewer’s sense of time, place, and subject.
Steffani Jemison (American, b. 1981) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She holds a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Jemison uses time-based, photographic, and discursive platforms to examine “progress” and its alternatives. Her work has been exhibited across the U.S. in group and solo presentations, at venues including the Brooklyn Museum, New York; LAXART in Hollywood, California; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, Denmark; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.