Kevin Jerome Everson is an artist known for films that scrutinise the physicality of labour and the everyday lives of working-class African Americans. A prolific filmmaker, he has created over 100 films that vary greatly in length, from a few minutes to several hours.Read More
Many of Kevin Jerome Everson's films are based in the working-class town of Mansfield, Ohio. This is where his interest in the performative nature of labour and its physical relationship with the human body developed. Park Lanes (2015) is a study dedicated to labour, following eight hours in a local factory that produces bowling alley supplies. Filmed in real time, the rhythmic repetition of the manufacturing process and the act of filming begin to resemble a performance as the video progresses.
In Westinghouse—a solo presentation at Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York (2020)—Everson exhibited a black-and-white and a colour film. Both films focus on the gestures of a man as he works ironing a white sheet with a fake rubber iron the artist made, but the two types of film present very different tonal contrasts.
Outside of the factory, Everson's primary focus is the everyday lives of African Americans. A Walker Art Centre Moving Image Commission that blends fact with fiction, music from the edge of the allegheny plateau (2018) centres on three musicians from different generations in Mansfield and whose passions and interests are projected through mundane objects and moments encountered in daily life. In one scene, for example, pianist Sidney Brown, Jr plays the piano in his home, with framed photographs of his family sitting on either side of him on the instrument.While Kevin Jerome Everson's films record everyday life, they are not documentaries, as he often uses scripts and props to construct seemingly authentic imagery. In music from the edge of the allegheny plateau, a girl uses a pair of binoculars to study a stone quarry—these are not real, but a sculpture that the artist made in reference to the local history of binocular manufacture during the Second World War. Everson's incorporation of props derives from early in his career, when he experimented with sculpture, performance, and street photography while studying at the University of Akron and Ohio University in the late 1980s.
In his filmed narratives, Everson also contemplates historic and ongoing violence and disenfranchisement in America. Ears, Nose and Throat (2016) shows black-and-white footage of a young woman receiving a medical examination, while her voice in the background recounts witnessing the murder of DeCarrio Antwan Couley—the artist's son. In Something Else (2007), a work made up of archival footage, a reporter asks a newly crowned Miss Black Roanoke, Virginia if she would like to compete in a racially integrated group. She replies that only segregated contests provide genuine opportunities for black women to win.
Kevin Jerome Everson's films have been screened internationally at the 41st Cinéma du réel, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2019); Filmforum, The Museum of Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles (2019); International Film Festival Rotterdam (2019); and Carnegie International (2018); among others. In 2017, Tate Modern presented a survey exhibition of his films titled Kevin Jerome Everson: So I Can Get Them Told. Everson was also the winner of the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities category in 2019.
Biography by Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020