The Crown: Contemporary Construction of Self in America Chameleon Street (1990) 94 MIN. Directed by and starring Wendell B. Harris.
Winner of the 1990 Sundance Film Festivals coveted Grand Jury Prize, but virtually unheard of since, Chameleon Street is a present day new Black classic. Magazine reporter, surgeon, lawyer, William Douglas can do it all—at least that’s what he lets people think. Based on a true story and set in Detroit, this compelling film follows the increasingly bizarre trail of lies told by this unassuming con man. Struggling with money and marriage, Street begins working scam – and assuming a variety of incredible new identities—that lead him down a dangerous road of deception. This screening, in conjunction with The Crown: Shani Peters and Contemporary Construction of Self in America. Co-sponsored by the Institute of Humanities.
The Crown: Contemporary Construction of Self in America is an exhibit and series of programs imagined by visiting artist Shani Peters and sponsored by the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS) and the Institute for the Humanities (IH). The project will feature a video installation in the IH gallery, an interactive portrait exhibition in GalleryDAAS, and a video screening of the award winning film, Chameleon Street. The screenings will be held at the Institute of the Humanities and at the Charles Wright Museum in Detroit, MI.
About the project:
The Crown: Shani Peters and Contemporary Construction of Self in America is a series of projects by artist Shani Peters that will examine the socially acceptable yet complicated concept of Black pride and success. Crowns, symbolic of kings and queens, and conferred on any number of Black popular culture figures from James Brown to Biggie, are also symbols for systems of inequitably distributed resources and injustice. This multi-part project—which includes two exhibitions, a film screening, and a panel discussion—asks the question: what does it mean to acknowledge the need for these forms of pride and success while recognizing their problems? It further complicates the question with a consideration of the similar celebration and pride that comes from attaining degrees of higher education which offer obvious opportunities, yet can alienate students of African descent from their origins. The artist asks, how do Black people register these complicated elements in ways that allow them to move progressively through western power structures towards futures that reflect their right to dignity and self-determination? Sponsored by the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and the Institute for the Humanities.