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Cauleen Smith’s “Remote Viewing” Premiering At The Kitchen (Where Are They Now?)

On this blog, we’ve often wondered about and investigated the current whereabouts of past promising black filmmakers who just seemed to vanish after their auspicious debuts, like, in this case, award-winning writer/director Cauleen Smith, whose 1998 first feature film, Drylongso, co-written by Salim Akil (Girlfriends, The Game, Jumping The Broom) – a coming-of-age drama about a young woman who begins photographing, for preservation purposes, what she deems “America’s most endangered species,” African-American males – premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film itself is very hard to find. It’s not on DVD, as far as I know. You might be able to get a VHS copy on eBay.

After Drylongso, Cauleen tried and tried and tried to get her second feature financed and produced, without success; despite it being selected as a Tribeca All-Access Project, a few years ago. Titled I Am Furious Black, the script’s synopsis read, “A loner detective investigates the homicide of a media-shy graphic novelist who sabotages her own career to the detriment of her family, friends and business partner.” I was instantly hooked, even though I hadn’t read a word of the script. But knowing the filmmaker, whom I had a few email exchanges with some years ago, when I first wondered what happened to that project, I had enough reason to be intrigued.

She’s also a friend of Brandon Wilson’s (who has contributed to this blog a few times). And he previously told me that, after things stalled on I Am Furious Black, Cauleen took a teaching position in Austin at the University of Texas. Last I heard, she’s a professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, in San Diego.

So, what’s she been up to lately? Well, she’s actually still making films – mostly short, experimental pieces, video installations and such. As Brandon mentioned, like others before her, and since then, she essentially gave up on the film business, and now she considers herself a video artist, choosing to abandon any plans to make narrative features.

Said Brandon: “She’s had several installations at museums, is involved in ambitious video projects and is doing well. She’s happy in the art world; after all, Cauleen started in the Northern Cal experimental world so it was no stretch for her to go that route. Personally, I always wished she’d stuck it out, the world needs films like I Am Furious Black, but I respect and understand her decision. I think it says a lot that someone like Cauleen, with her prodigious amount of talent and drive was ultimately disenchanted (disgusted, really) with the film world even though she had been granted entry into the palace.

So, there ya have it! I think many of us share or have shared her frustrations, and made similar decisions.

I received an email from Creative Capital, the organization behind many of Cauleen’s projects, alerting me to an ongoing installations of hers at The Kitchen, an arts center for video, film, music, performance art, literature and more, right here in NYC, titled, Remote Viewing. The exhibition will consist of three videos on a loop: Remote Viewing, The Grid and The Vanishing.

Synopsis from the press release: “In the narratives for Remote Viewing and The Wonder Gaze, characters extracted from the actual events described below lose their memories, move through space and time, and ultimately recover their sense of self. Some characters are redeemed. Some are irredeemable. But all are recovered and rewarded for their journey. The films focus on burial and an excavation separated by space and time but connected by the shared intention of violent erasure. The happenings explored in the films were not rooted in a desire to resolve absence and loss; rather, they were meant to conceal. The films seek not only to expose that which has disappeared, but also to investigate the gestures and associated traumas of burial itself. In so doing, the images link these sites and incidents with something recuperative, something recognizable as art—Land Art.

The installation runs through March 5th, so, if you’re in NYC, go check it out. It’s FREE admission! And if I may suggest going on February 28 at 7pm, because Cauleen will be there curating that evening’s special screening. So you’ll get to meet her as well. I will!

In the meantime, head over to The Kitchen’s website HERE for more.

2 comments to Cauleen Smith’s “Remote Viewing” Premiering At The Kitchen (Where Are They Now?)

  • RB

    Tambay, I was also a fan of hers, I really liked Drylongso. I thought it was great film, I was waiting and waiting and waiting for her second feature to come along. It never happened. I heard bits and pieces here and there about the second feature that never transpired. But its TOUGH! But maybe she is needs a respite in the experimental world and come back later. But sadly, I did not live in NY and won’t be able to see her video installments. Please do share when you have seen it.


  • I’m also a big fan of Cauleen’s. While I’m sad her second film did not get off the ground, glad to see she’s still out there creating.