QUEEN FOR A DAY by Deborah-Joyce Holman
170 x 240mm, 136 pages, Colour printing, Perfect bound, Softcover, Ed. of 1000, 2023
Queen for a Day is Deborah-Joyce Holman’s debut publication, staging a conversation between two of the artist’s films, Moment and Moment 2 (2022), and the work of cinema verité they take as a primary material: Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason (1967). One ‘queen’ of this title is Jason Holliday, the Black gay male subject at the centre of Clarke’s film with whom Holman wants to act in solidarity. Finding Jason captured by the extractive gaze and exhausting line of questioning of a white female director, Holman works to reproduce his words, rather than his image, placing them as looping samples of script in the mouths of two performers, Imani Mason Jordan (Moment) and Rebecca Bellantoni (Moment and Moment 2). The loop is intended to be liberatory, a way of paying homage to Jason’s utterances via repetition, and to render them abstract and opaque, allowing the new script – included in this book as a series of textual interludes – to function as camouflage.
The publication contains extensive representation of Moment and Moment 2 as still images, added to which are installation views of the films’ presentation at the ICA, London, schwarzescafé, Luma Westbau, Zürich, and Cordova, Barcelona. Following this a conversation between Deborah-Joyce Holman and Cédric Fauq elaborates on Holman’s method, and suggests that there are parallels to be drawn between the cycle of oppression in which Jason is trapped by Clarke, and the way in which the contemporary circulation of images of Black people suffering triggers a retraumatising process of spectacularisation. Newly commissioned essays by Olamiju Fajemisin, Noémi Michel, and Francis Whorrall-Campbell, offer close analysis of Moment and Moment 2, opening up diverse ways of understanding Holman’s aesthetic strategies and politics of representation via film history, decolonial and queer theory.