Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
History of Art
Gwendolyn D. Shaw
My dissertation theorizes immersion as a Black radical aesthetic. More specifically, it traces how transatlantic filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles and a subsequent generation of transatlantic artists and filmmakers, notably Isaac Julien and Steve McQueen, use immersion to both visualize the lateral, interconnected relations of what Édouard Glissant would call “creolization” and explore how Blackness, as an aesthetics and politics, occupies the position of object within, rather than distanced from, the scene. Standing in sharp contrast to the dominant understanding of moving-image immersion as an agent of late capital, Van Peebles’s landmark film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassssss Song (1971), Julien’s three-channel installation Baltimore (2003), McQueen’s first feature-length film Hunger (2008) and his installation Western Deep (2002) chart an alternative version of immersion in the movie theater or museum, a model of space and relations that transgresses, condenses, and ultimately creolizes the space separating spectatorial subject from displayed object. In so doing, these works imagine another world, a creolized world out from under the hierarchical order of our current one.
Ickes, Charlotte, "Radical Immersion in the Work of Melvin Van Peebles, Isaac Julien, and Steve Mcqueen" (2016). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 1774.