Four Women

16mm motion picture film of Four Women

Directed by
Dash, Julie, American, born 1952
Recorded by
Simone, Nina, American, 1933 - 2003
Subject of
Young, Linda Martina, American
Owned by
Bowser, Pearl, American, born 1931
Medium
16mm Film (a): acetate film
Dimensions
Duration: 8 Minutes
Length (Film): 300 Feet
Type
motion pictures (information artifacts)
Place filmed
United States, North and Central America
Date
1975
Caption
This 16mm film by Julie Dash uses dance to explore African American female identity and stereotypes. The featured dancer is Linda Martina Young, and the accompanying music is "Four Women" by Nina Simone.
Description
Consists Of: 16mm Film (a).
2012.79.1.40.1a: 16mm film. The film begins with a completely black frame with the sound of chanting in the background before the title of the film appears. There is then a series of closeup shots of a dancer (L. Martina Young) underneath a large sheet of translucent fabric and large sheets of cloth as the dancer slowly moves. The sound changes to an unidentified indigenous group singing and chanting as the dancer continues to move under the fabric. As the dancer continues her interpretive moves, the sound again changes to that of a whip being used, the sound of running water, and the sound of moaning/wailing voices. In the following sequence, Nina Simone’s “Four Women” begins to play and the dancer’s costume changes to a long dress and shawl, which reflects the first character of the song, Aunt Sarah. The Aunt Sarah character is representative of slavery. In the next series of shots, the dancer has changed to a black dress and black veil as Simone describes the next character, Safronia, who is of mixed race and the product of her mother being raped by a white man. As Simone begins describing the next character, Sweet Thing, a prostitute with both black and white clients, there are close up shots of the body part being described. The dancer has changed to a loose floral print dress and her hair is no longer tied back or hidden by a veil. In the fourth and final sequence, the dancer is wearing cornrows and has changed to a brightly colored tube top and matching pants to represent Simone's character, Peaches, a black woman toughened by generations of oppression. Prior to the song’s and the film’s conclusion, there is a brief montage of all four women as portrayed by the dancer.
Topic
African American
Dance
Film
Identity
Stereotypes
Women
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Pearl Bowser
Object number
2012.79.1.40.1abc
Restrictions & Rights
Unknown - Restrictions Possible
See more items in
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Collection title
Pearl Bowser Collection
Classification
Media Arts-Film and Video
Data Source
National Museum of African American History and Culture

NOTE: Cataloging is an ongoing process and we may update this record as we conduct additional research and review. If you have more information about this object, please contact us at NMAAHCDigiTeam@si.edu.