Kevin Jerome Everson is one of America’s most prolific and perceptive artists. His sustained practice as a filmmaker has resulted in an understated corpus dedicated to showing and understanding the lives of working-class African Americans that also challenges their usual depiction across documentary filmmaking. The Museum of Modern Art’s Doc Fortnight, which opens on February 22, includes two new short films — First Team Offense and Hough 66 — by the artist. To coincide, we present Everson’s Fe26, a staged documentary about Isaac “I-Pleeza” Chester and Jonathan “Streets” Lee, two copper hustlers trying to make a living in Cleveland, Ohio’s East Side.
At face-value, Fe26 is a slipstream of survival practices in one of America’s many anonymous zones of urban decay. On closer inspection, the film reveals itself as one fraught with fictions where sprinkled sculptures disguised as everyday objects — manhole covers and crowbars made by Everson — disclose an abstracted everyday possessed by performative rituals rather than pure actions. “Procedure is the formal quality I am exploring with the work,” noted Everson. Thus, Fe26 does not depict life as is; instead, it presents life in its eternal, permutable redefining.
“I don’t make films for the audience, I make them for the subjects, and I try to position those subjects and the camera so that there’s a element of generosity between the two.” KEVIN JEROME EVERSON
In tracing Fe26’s title to the periodic table where Iron is denoted by the symbol Fe and atomic number 26, Everson’s film presents itself as an entirely alchemical one. His films render fiction into fact and vice versa, avoiding direct explanation and instead asking the viewer to mull over the rich representations he’s forged.
Kevin Jerome Everson was born in Mansfield, Ohio, in 1965. His artistic practice encompasses filmmaking, photography, printmaking and sculpting. His artwork has been exhibited at The Whitney Museum of American Art, Centre Pompidou, The Museum of Modern Art, and Tate Modern, among other artistic institutions across the world. As of this moment, he’s made 12 features and over 200 short films, and he will have released at least five new short films — If You Don’t Watch The Way You Move, Hough 66, First Team Offense, Gospel Hill, and West Lounge — by the end of the year which are currently scheduled to premiere at Berlinale, Doc Fortnight, First Look, and the Courtisane Festival respectively.
Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer.
- Credits for
- Issac "I-Pleeza" Chester & Johnathan "Streets" Lee
- edited by
- Kevin Jerome Everson
- produced by
- Madeleine Molyneaux
- cinematography by
- Lydia Hicks
- sound by
- Elizabeth Webb & Lindsey 'LNZ' Arturo
- production crew
- Kahlil I. Pedizisai, Nate Paige & Matthew 'Wolf Ticket' Everson
- preservation funding provided by
- the Sundance Institute
- Picture Palace Pictures