Eh Rachel

Eh Rachel
Video installation, Color/Sound, 10:45 min, 2018.

"Eh Rachel" is an inner monologue, unfolding in one single camera shot. The video depicts a white woman's obsession with blackness. Seated in an empty theater stage Rachel is surrounded by nothing else but her inner voices. We, the audience, are forced into the only possible viewing position through the camera lens, which carefully observes and follows Rachel without ever leaving her out of sight. Getting closer to her face step by step we get involved into her thoughts as potential observers of her racial identity and listen to the story evolving around it. Rachel hears disembodied voices blaming her, black women's voices accusing her of appropriating blackness, performing blackface and stealing the black experience. Slowly we get to know what Rachel has done: she has tanned her skin, and styled her hair like a black woman, she has invested a lot in order to pass as a black woman over a long period of time. But she has been caught and abandoned from the community of black women. Now she is exposed and threatened, left alone with the voices in her head. Rather than telling the story of appropriation of blackness, "Eh Rachel" serves as an insight into the structural prohibition of relations between white and black people, which result in overidentification with blackness. The video concentrates on inner dynamics which shape desires and norms around racial identification and the racist constellations stemming from them. The text in "Eh Rachel" is an assemblage of real posts and comments on Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who lived as black until 2015, when her parents stated publicly that Rachel was born white.

Performance: Anat Stainberg
Camera: Angela Anderson
Sound: Lenja Gathmann
Assistent: Katharina Aigner
Concept, script and postproduction: Ana Hoffner