Barbara McCullough

Barbara McCullough – Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification (1979)

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acqueline Stewart wrote:
Made in collaboration with performer Yolanda Vidato, Water Ritual #1 examines Black women’s ongoing struggle for spiritual and psychological space through improvisational, symbolic acts. Shot in 16mm black-and-white, the film was made in an area in Watts that had been cleared to make way for the I-105 freeway, but ultimately abandoned. At first sight, Milanda (Vidato, wearing a simple dress and scarves on her head and waist) and her environs (burnt-out houses overgrown with weeds) might seem to be located in Africa or the Caribbean, or at some time in the past. This layering of locations and temporalities continues to the film’s striking conclusion, in which a now nude Milanda squats and urinates inside an urban ruin. By making “water,” Milanda evokes the numerous female water-based figures in African-Diaspora cosmology as she attempts to expel the putrefaction she has absorbed from her physical environment, while symbolically cleansing the environment itself. Read More »