My work seeks to map the overlaps and commonalities among members of the African Diaspora by documenting our rituals. Particularly uplifting those rituals in the Black ‘american’ context that are deemed mundane or insignificant or not ritualistic at all. But I observe everyday rituals of beauty, rituals of resistance, rituals of healing, rituals of martyrdom, rituals of identity, rituals of violence etc. as practices that order our world. My images aim to reveal this process of transforming the mundane into the sacred.
I at times appropriate archival footage to better show these overlapping contours of cultures. This practice of sampling commercial or existing visual commodities is exploited to mimic the ritual of sampling which I deem a signature aesthetic ritual of the oppressed. That is, those who do not have readied access to the means of cultural production will sample or cannibalize existing media to suit their needs. We see this in Hip Hop, the appropriation of European instruments to birth Jazz and now in meme culture. This again is a ritual of transformation.
I see my teaching as an extension of my creative praxis. Essentially the educational process is the practice of liberation as we share tools needed to assess and transform the ideas, structures, and material conditions that limit the human experience. Learning in this context is the ongoing, unfolding and enlarging of possibilities applicable and demonstrable in our world. Creativity and imagination are as paramount to survival and success as critical thinking. Using one’s imagination to confront the social, historical, and ideological structures that constrain it I call critical creativity. Critical creativity came about as a response to the questions:
What are the parameters, limitations and functions of black cultural production (art) in a liberation struggle?
How can art not only assess history but also intervene and shape the trajectory of the historical material process of societal development?
Critical creativity acts as a catalyst for social transformation, a moral response and civic duty in a political climate seemingly dearth of inventive possibilities. My teaching is guided by this critical creativity as I see pedagogy as a medium to develop, shape, and communicate ideas in the classroom as I would in any artistic work.
My current research and creative interests include exploring cinematic narrative structure as a temporal (musical) medium as opposed to literary or visual. And a cinematic jazz essay about racialized sex work that I’m hoping will problematize assumptions about black masculinities and sexualities. It’s titled ‘Blood Orange’.
Darren Wallace is a writer and director from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During the wake and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he attended Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans receiving a BA in Communications/Broadcasting while receiving honors in Theology and Creative Writing.
Here he began his foray into filmmaking by co-writing and directing Working Girl, a short film which won 3rd place in the 2009 HBCU Student Film Festival. In 2008 he had the opportunity to work as a publicist for the American Pavilion at the International Cannes Film Festival. Following this, Darren worked within the commercial production department of KCTV-5, a Kansas City, Missouri CBS affiliate. In 2010 Darren assisted director Barnard Jaffier in the production of the BET documentary “Heart of the City: Katrina 5 Years Later”. Summer of 2012, he worked within the camera department of Steve McQueen’s “Twelve Years a Slave”. In 2014 Darren completed his MFA in Directing at Columbia College of Chicago where he met Julian Walker and formed Kinfolk Collective, a black radical tribe of artists and scholars.
For 7 years now Darren has taught experimental cinema in Chicago communities, including a former dream institution of his, Black Cinema House. That is, until he organized a campaign against their exploitive labor and community engagement practices in coalition with the Black and Brown Workers Collective. His artistic practice centers counter cultural perspectives that explore the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality and their effect on the social and material conditions of black persons.
He’s a Truman Capote Literary Trust Award recipient and has published work in the Maple Leaf Rag An Anthology of Poems. His most recent film, Savage vs. The Void, has played at 2015 AFROPUNK New York, the 2015 New Orleans International Film Festival, and the 2016 Black Star Film Festival.