For the first three years of my twin niece’s and nephew’s lives, I used my 16mm Bolex camera to film them growing up in New York City with their two dads (my brother Ira Sachs and his husband Boris Torres) and their mom (Kirsten Johnson). The film ends with a Gay Pride Day embrace.
Ethnography is describing the Other. In the 1920s, writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston reacted to this established view with her own artistic and scholarly works on everyday cultures in her own home in America’s black south. Hurston political and poetic studies of “folk cultures” that were mostly disparaged at the time are an expression of unmitigated appreciation and a way of taking up a position within the debate on “high” and “low” art in Harlem between the wars.
My first viewing of Bruce Baillie’s Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964) sent a shiver through my body and mind that ricochets to this very day.