Zora J Murff

I don’t know how many videos of Black people being killed by police officers I have watched, but I know the power these images possess. They are injurious yet informative, shifting how I navigate my Black body through this world. As I deal in researching and making images, this profound effect born from the visual was curious to me, compelling me to dig past the image’s surface. What I found was an inescapable component of American history pockmarked with the theft of Black life by white hands, and the photographic documentation of that violence. 

The oppression of Black individuals in America has continued to evolve, expanding the ways in which racial violence is perpetrated. We must now perceive violence dichotomously between fast and slow. Forms of fast violence are readily understood because there is a perceived risk. Forms of slow violence are less comprehensible because of  the wide chasm between cause and effect. Working in the historically Black neighborhood of North Omaha, Nebraska, I evaluate the fallout of government-endorsed prejudicial housing policies—known as “redlining”—that have affected this place and propose them as a form of slow violence. 

Re-Making The Mark prompts inquiry into how racial violence has been recorded through images, and how these same images can be used to interrupt collective belief. I accomplish this by invoking the notion of the photographic archive; addressing the convergence of the physical and social landscape; and reinterpreting complex narratives about race, power, and violence. The series is comprised of two separate parts: A Lineage (An Erasure) and At No Point In Between wherein I tap into the archive’s functions to generate a subset of knowledge, make a claim on history, and serve an ideological or political intent. 

Creating a collection of images, objects, and image-objects meant to be scrutinized in both their historical and contemporary contexts, I metaphorically connect fast and slow violence. In this body of work, witnessing is intertwined with critical analysis, and I provide a deeper understanding of systemic white supremacy and the resulting violence therein.