Jamilah Sabur

In my favorite scene from Jean Cocteau’s 1933 film “Blood of a Poet” the main character looks through a peep hole and we enter an interior with a fireplace and ladder with a little girl wearing something that resembles a ceremonial sash in a V-shaped format, draping from both shoulders to her stomach like a large necklace with jingle-bells sewn into the fabric of the sash. She also wears jingle-bell bracelets around her writs and ankles. An older woman, a governess-like character, is reprimanding her in the scene. The little girl gestures, then her body is placed on top of the fireplace mantel. She then drifts up the wall and out of the frame. The scene last only about 2 minutes— imagine a simulation of a little girl falling inside the wall and over time the jingle-bell sash across her body shifts and turns into a wart-like mass covering her hands and face distorting her likeness. In  “Jackrabbit Cellar,” I made a costume inspired by this little girl from Cocteau’s “Blood of a Poet.” The gestures performed in Jackrabbit Cellar were informed by a vision of a figure falling inside of an in-between interior space. The house becomes a metaphor for the body—the attic is on top—it is our consciousness—the part of the house where all of our thoughts are clear. The cellar is the foundation of the house—our consciousness is grounded in our bodies—we touch the hot sand with our feet—we locate ourselves through sounds entering our ears, vibrations passing through our skin. In this video I perform the two characters, wearing a mask to restrict my sight—relying on haptic perception, the process of recognizing objects through touch. It is a sensory play.

Jamilah Sabur, Jackrabbit Cellar, 2011. Single-channel video, 13:45 minutes.

Jamilah Sabur, Jackrabbit Cellar, 2011. Single-channel video, 13:45 minutes.