about the artist
Crystal Z Campbell
Crystal Z Campbell, a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in Fine Arts, is a multidisciplinary artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer of Black, Filipinx, and Chinese descents. Campbell finds complexity in public secrets — fragments of information known by many but undertold or unspoken. Campbell’s recent works use underloved archival material to consider historical gaps in the narrative of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, revisit questions of immortality and medical ethics with Henrietta Lacks’ “immortal” cell line, ponder the role of a political monument and displacement in a Swedish coastal landscape, and salvage a 35mm film from a demolished Black activist theater in Brooklyn as a relic of gentrification.
A featured filmmaker at the 67th Flaherty Film Seminar programmed by Almudena Escobar López and Sky Hopinka. Campbell’s films and art have screened and exhibited internationally: MIT List Visual Arts Center (Cambridge, Massachusetts); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Walker Art Center (Minneapolis); The Drawing Center (NYC); Nest (The Netherland)s; ICA Philadelphia; the Museum of Modern Art (NYC); BLOCK Museum (Evanston, Illinois); REDCAT; Artissima (Italy); Studio Museum of Harlem (NYC); Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, Nebraska); Project Row Houses (Houston); SculptureCenter (NYC); and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. Campbell’s film Revolver received the Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival (an Academy Award qualifying festival).
Other honors include a 2022 Creative Capital Award, Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center/David and Roberta Logie Fellowship, Pollock-Krasner Award, MAP Fund, MacDowell, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Skowhegan, Rijksakademie, Whitney ISP, Franklin Furnace, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, and Black Spatial Relics.
Campbell’s writing is featured in World Literature Today, Monday Journal, Hyperallergic, and two artist books published by Visual Studies Workshop Press. Founder of the virtual programming platform archiveacts.com, Campbell is currently a visiting associate professor in Art and Media Study at the University at Buffalo and lives and works in New York and Oklahoma.
list of films
Revolver (2022), 17 min.
Revolver is an archive of pareidolia, a situation in which someone sees a pattern or an image of something that does not exist, narrated by a descendant of Exodusters, Black people from the southern United States who fled violence and inequities following the American Civil War of 1861-’65. The city of Nicodemus in Kansas was deemed a refuge for Exodusters. Two contradicting narratives about this city are difficult to hold at once: the lure of a potential utopia while also being exiled in one’s own land. Guided by memory, history, and rumor of a fabled Black utopia, Revolver pairs abstraction and perceptual inquiry with psychic conjuring. Sonic transitions forge this experimental documentary, a perpetual chronicle of witnessing and wayfinding.
Flight (2021), 24 min.
Flourishing Black townships of Oklahoma in the 1920s — an archival record of communities in exile, awash in colors deemed “impossible.” Commissioned by OK Contemporary.
Go-Rilla Means War (2017), 19 min.
A filmic relic of gentrification. Featuring 35mm film salvaged from a now demolished Black civil rights theater in Brooklyn, Go-Rilla Means War is a parable weaving intersections of development, cultural preservation, and erasure. Director: Unknown. Editor, Sound Designer: Crystal Z Campbell.
Currency (2019), 3 min.
Currency is a sound film of refusal — a woman wears bygone forms of currency on the tips of her hair while preserving the greatest currency for herself. Performer: Angela Davis Johnson. Videographer: David Wayne Reed.
A Meditation on Nature in the Absence of an Eclipse (2017-2020), 8 min.
Running like water, an eclipse streams glimpses of irreversible consequence