Black Lives Matter (2017) is about police brutality faced predominately by African-American population due to deep rooted racism. A fictitious police officer writing uncountable times Black Lives Matter on a chalkboard wall as a form of non-violent penalty.
Directors: Sasha Huber & Petri Saarikko
Actor: Joe Shavel
Producer: Sasha Dees (John106), Gerrit Vooren (Vooren Productions)
Camera: Petri Saarikko
Editor & post production: Petri Saarikko
Location: College of Staten Island
In part made possible by VISEK, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Snug Harbour, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, College of Staten Island.
Thank you: Bonnie Chin and staff Snug Harbor, Larry Anderson, Shawna Salmon, Melissa West.
Sasha Huber is a visual artist of Swiss-Haitian heritage, born in Zurich (Switzerland) in 1975. She lives and works in Helsinki (Finland). Huber’s work is primarily concerned with the politics of memory and belonging, particularly in relation to colonial residue left in the environment. Sensitive to the subtle threads connecting history and the present, she uses and responds to archival material within a layered creative practice that encompasses video, photography, collaborations with researchers, and performance-based interventions. She has also discovered the compressed-air staple gun as a tool capable of producing visually arresting works that also functions like a symbolic weapon, offering the potential to renegotiate unequal power dynamics. This can be experienced in her portrait series Shooting Back (2004) and Shooting Stars (2014). Huber’s work took a new direction in 2007 when she joined the transatlantic committee Demounting Louis Agassiz, initiated by the Swiss historian and political activist Hans Fässler. This long-term project has been concerned with unearthing and redressing the little-known history and cultural legacies of the Swiss-born naturalist and glaciologist Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), an influential proponent of scientific racism who advocated for segregation and “racial hygiene”. One of the core project actions was a campaign to officially rename Agassizhorn mountain peak in the Swiss Alps. The proposed new name is Rentyhorn, in tribute to Renty: an enslaved person from the Congo whom Agassiz photographed in 1850, and who is emblematic of other silent and unnamed victims of racism. An actual renaming has yet to take place, but in 2008 Huber performed the first of several transformative interventions in her oeuvre, embarking on a private expedition in which she reached the top of the mountain and momentarily placed an engraved plaque of Renty in the crisp white snow. Using her voice and body to mediate the unfinished business of history, Huber’s work now attempts to heal environmental ruptures troubled by a colonial inheritance, whilst stepping inside the shoes of those who came before.
Alongside her solo practice, Huber has edited the book Rentyhorn (2010), and was co-editor of (T)races of Louis Agassiz: Photography, Body and Science, Yesterday and Today (2010) on the occasion of the 29th Biennale of São Paulo (Brazil). She has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including the 56th la Biennale di Venezia in 2015, and the 19th Biennale of Sydney in 2014. She holds an MA from the University of Art and Design Helsinki, and is currently undertaking doctoral research on racism through the lens of art at the Department of Art at Aalto University, Helsinki (Finland). Huber also works in a creative partnership with artist Petri Saarikko (founder and director, Kallio Kunsthalle, Helsinki), and together they have been invited to artist residencies in Brazil, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia. In 2010 they began working on Remedies, a project exploring aural knowledge of traditional folk remedies passed down through families around the world. They staged performances and created videos for Huskurer Remedies (2010-11) in Sweden, and have continued connecting communities with further versions in New Zealand (2015), Australia (2015), Haiti (2016), Germany (2016), Russia (2016), and in 2017 again in Sweden and Australia. Accompanying project booklets were published by Labyrinth Press in Sweden (Swedish and English), and by Enjoy Public Art Gallery in New Zealand (Maori and English).
Petri Saarikko (b. 1973) is Helsinki-based artist and designer. In his site-specific installations, Saarikko combines social commentary with his work as a designer and his background in new media. His work is highly performative in nature. Saarikko does not shy away from provocation. He often challenges ideas of national identity, artistic authorship or official political discourses by changing their context and thus showing the true, artificial nature of these phenomena. His work seeks to expose power relations, to make room for individual narratives, and takes a stand on behalf of equality. Saarikko collaborates regularly with his partner Sasha Huber Saarikko.