Code: Laura Hanna and Matana Roberts on NYC Stop and Frisk
Filmmaker and media activist Laura Hanna — a co-founder of the production company HiddenDriver and director of docs Gattis, James and Hammer — has directed this short documentary about composer and sound artist Matana Roberts’ recent “stop and frisk” encounter on the Williamsburg bridge. Produced by Creative Time Reports and found on their site, it is introduced thusly:
As the composer, saxophone player and sound artist Matana Roberts walked across the Williamsburg Bridge one night in May, she asked herself a familiar question: “How am I going to survive as an artist in this town?” It was too enchanting an evening for her concern to spiral into despair. Roberts looked at a wall lined with graffiti tags and told herself, “Don’t worry about that, Matana, it’s a beautiful night, and you live in New York City!” Her thoughts were abruptly interrupted as she felt her body pushed up against a fence and a police officer grabbed her bag.
Frightened, Roberts initially told the officer that he was harassing her, but soon found herself thanking him for doing his job. She immediately regretted her polite words, a tried-and-true strategy of “dealing with authority when you have no authority” that pointed to a long legacy of racial and gender discrimination, as she later told artist Laura Hanna.