Atlantic is a Sea of Bones is a short film drawing from the Lucille Clifton poem of the same name that follows Egyptt LaBejia, an NYC-based performer through the 80s, 90s, and 2000's in NYC. The haunting and otherwordly film set to an original score features small every day acts of refusal, resistance, and existence—such as performance and self expression—that have a tremendous impact on the world. The film reveals how the historical and systemic violence, like the killing and policing of Black queer and trans life, continue to haunt our contemporary landscapes and is inextricably linked to the ongoing AIDS epidemic and the black queer/trans spaces shaped so intimately by HIV/AIDS, including the spaces where we come together and make life together: public spaces and nightlife spaces.
Commissioned in 2017 as part of ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS, a program of seven videos prioritizing Black narratives within the ongoing AIDS epidemic curated by Erin Christovale and Vivian Crockett for Visual AIDS.
About the artist
Tourmaline is an artist and the 2017 Activist In Residence at Barnard College Center for Research on Women (BCRW). While at BCRW, she recently directed The Personal Things, an animated short starring iconic trans activist Miss Major and the everyday ways people fight back. Tourmaline often makes her art through collaboration. Along with Sasha Wortzel, Tourmaline directed Happy Birthday, Marsha! about legendary performer and activist Marsha P. Johnson. Tourmaline is an editor of the anthology TRAP DOOR about trans art and cultural production, to be published by the New Museum and MIT Press in October 2017. A longtime community organizer, Tourmaline worked as the membership director at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Critical Resistance, Queers for Economic Justice, where she directed the Welfare Organizing Project and produced A Fabulous Attitude, documenting low income LBGT New Yorkers. Tourmaline moderated Visual AIDS’ 2015 event AGING FIERCELY WHILE TRANS and was a featured artist in Visual AIDS’ Playsmart safer sex kit project, exhibited and distributed in The Brooklyn Museum exhibition Agitprop. Tourmaline lives and works in New York City, NY.
︎ Artist Statement
︎ Watch a conversation with Tourmaline, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, and Brontez Purnell at the Whitney Museum of American Art
︎ Watch a conversation with Tourmaline and Kia LaBeija at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles