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  • Author or Editor: Antonia Lant x
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In: Einfühlung
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Abstract

Cinematic elements inform the aesthetic innovation of interwar American artists Aaron Douglas and Charles Dawson, particularly in the interplay between ancient Egyptian resources and modern visual expression. Cinema had developed an Egypthood, a set of concepts tying its picture-writing (hieroglyphics) to notions of preserving and reorganizing time (mummies) and an eloquence in compressing volume into surfaces (bas relief). Reaching for the pharaohs belonged within an urgent cultural politics, a campaign for beauty and regeneration against white supremacy. Cinema spoke to artists engaged with organizing eras across a flat surface. Through their compact spaces, and sometimes translucent historical jumps, Dawson and Douglas draw the Nile past forward in what Schomburg would call the use of the “reclaimed background.” Their complex rosters of spatial compression produce the aesthetic shock of historical compression, within a wider effort to transform and break open the Nile’s anchorage in the temporarily and culturally remote.

In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies