Thursday, April 14, 2016

Day 2: TFF2016: 'Intersection of I,' Frank Talk About What Whiteness Means to Me

In "Intersection of I," Hadley and other millennials discuss the impact that identifying as white has on their lives. Photo by V.W.


casually, Connor discloses that he has been arrested more than 20 times. Selling drugs, is one of his offenses. "I did what I wanted to do knowing there would be no consequences," he confesses without a trace of shame.

Welcome to the engaging and provocative “Intersection of I," a multimedia installation in which 23 part-white and white millennials speak candidly about the impact of "whiteness" on their lives.

"There have been plenty of times where I have taken advantage of it," Connor says of his white privilege.

“Intersection of I” is making its world debut today through 17 April in the virtual reality and installation space, Storyscapes, at the 15th annual Tribeca Film Festival.

From Whitney Dow, it is the second series in his “The Whiteness Project.” During a brief chat at a press preview yesterday, the award-winning filmmaker says he conceived the work as he became aware that as a white person he was bringing the racial experiences of others to the fore without having examined his own, specifically his white male privilege.

Of “The Whiteness Project,” WD says wanted to present work in which white participants could have a “transformational experience.” It was not his desire, however, to present an “argumental thesis” in defense of whiteness. Further, he had in mind an interactive experience.

“Intersection of I” is situated in what’s called the 5th Floor Hub at Spring Street Studios, command central of Tribeca. Before visitors enter the space, they are asked to allow a photo of a part of their skin to be taken. It will be immediately added to a digital skin color storyboard within the exhibit that looks like a collection of fabric swatches.

In addition to the storyboard, the installation includes a world map that shows in real-time where people are watching. Their comments appear on a screen above the world map. On a huge projected screen, across from visitor bleacher-style seating, are photos and names of the 23 people featured in “Intersection of I.”

The questions they have been asked about whiteness have been recorded. Visitors can hear their remarks by speaking their names into a microphone. The mic acts as a mouse.

Say “Lena” and her image fills the screen; she explains why she alters her appearance to appear less Arab and more white.

Alfredo is Hispanic, too, and proud of it. But when he identifies as white, “I have more freedom to be who I am.”

Carson wonders how much he has actually accomplished on true merit. He is discomfited because he doesn’t know what he has earned by hard work and what has been handed to him because he is white.

No black males appear in "Intersection of I," an obvious oversight. Nor is there anyone who is part black, but who can pass for white yet does not do so. Moreover, no Native Americans.

Though forthright, WD's explanation to the effect that it was not possible, owing to the constraints of time and budget, is tepid. He is contrite, however, which mitigates these omissions.

"I am eventually hoping to have 1,000 interviews altogether. And once I do that, then you will be able to go into it and pick from a greater number of interviews," he explains. "...The project is in pilot stage. It is absolutely not fully representational of the way I'd like to have this conversation."

For “Intersection of I,” WD chose millennials aged 15-27 in part because “they have much stronger language skills around talking about identity” than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

"Intersection of I" participants live in Greater Dallas. In part one of "The Whiteness Project," "Inside the White/Caucasian Box," WD spoke about their whiteness with residents of Buffalo, NY between the ages of 24 and 75.

Of millennials, he continues, their perspective is that ‘the world has to take me on my terms.’

“I also thought it would be interesting to talk to people who are also in this place of forming their own identities, that they’re still in the process of not being like this codified thing.”

Other films/events on today's TFF2016 schedule: “Kicks,” “30 for 30: The Magic Moment,” “Nerdland,” “As I Open My Eyes,” “Dreamland,” “Keep Quiet,” “After Spring,” “Haveababy,” “Holidays,” “Madly,” “Tickling Giants,” “Win!,” “All this Panic,” “Do Not Resist,” “Mother,” “First Monday in May,” “Shorts: New York Then,” “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.”

Visit to learn more about it and the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

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