Simone Leigh, Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich
USA / 2022
25 min. / Original version
An incantation of multiple architectures of the self for Black women, CONSPIRACY is a film by artists Simone Leigh and Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich. This tribute to the manual labors of creation, which closes with a gesture of contained Black feminist arson, forms a contact zone between their respective practices of sculpture and filmmaking. The wandering hypnosis of Hunt-Ehrlich’s gorgeous black and white cinematography ritualizes the assertive elegance of Leigh’s craftsmanship of clay and stone. This shared composition is directed by a mesmerizing attentiveness to the haptics of sculptural labor.
Hunt-Ehrlich and Leigh’s film performs an enchanting re-citation of HANDS OF INGE (1962), a 16mm black-and-white documentary about the artist Ruth Inge Hardison. An actor and photographer, Hardison was most dedicated to her practice as a sculptor. As one of few Black women recognized in this capacity, there is a line of inheritance between her and Leigh’s defiant positionalities within the white norms of the art world. These nested references to cultural caretaking and artistic ingenuity are heightened by Lorraine O’Grady’s presence in the film.
Leigh and Hunt-Ehrlich have had a decade-long creative friendship, which makes this film an extension of an ongoing conversation that both also share with a larger constellation of Black women cultural workers. (Yasmina Price)
Simone Leigh was born in Chicago and first began exhibiting her work in the early-2000s. She has had solo exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Tate Gallery, London; the Studio Museum in Harlem; and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles among others and her work was included in the 2012 and 2019 Whitney Biennale, New York. In 2014 she presented “The Free People’s Medical Clinic” in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. Leigh represented the United States at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia (2022) and her work was also included in the central exhibition, “The Milk of Dreams,” for which she was awarded the Golden Lion for Best Participant.
Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich is a filmmaker and artist who has completed projects in Kingston, Jamaica; Miami, Florida; and extensively in the five boroughs of New York City. Her work has been screened all over the world including at the 2022 Biennale di Venezia, the Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of Art in New York. Her films have been awarded special jury prize for best experimental film at Blackstar Film Festival in Philadelphia and New Orleans Film Festival. She is the recipient of several fellowships and grants.
Production Sophie Luo. Production company Simone Leigh Studio (New York, USA). Directed by Simone Leigh, Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich. Cinematography Alex Ashe. Editing Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich. Sound Andrew Kim. Co-producer Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich. With Simone Leigh, Kimari Hazward, Lorraine O'Grady, Edward Sales, Jin Sik, Sarah Wang, Anastasia Warren.