Nigger Loves A Watermelon (2017)

 

Still from Performance Piece, Video, Screen Capture from Original 1896 Short film titled "The Watermelon Eating Contest", audio from 1916 record titled, “Nigger Love a Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!”

2017

This piece was inspired by a short film called "The Watermelon Eating Contest" which was first presented in 1896 and directed by James H. White. The original film was an 18 second silent film, and was originally released as a comedy. Included is a song by Harry C. Browne, from a 1916 record titled, “Nigger Love a Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!”

Included in this piece is one black female and one black male, who each hold a slice of watermelon. They attempt to race each other and aggressively eat the watermelon off the plate, in order to see who will finish their plate first.

This performance is meant to bring attention to the history of film in relation to the distribution and growth of racial stereotypes that are associated with blacks today. Many of the terms, songs, and references that are prevalent today, can be traced back to early American films, cartoons, posters, toys, and children’s songs. Racial stereotypes have plagued the perception of blacks and have stifled the development of positive representations of African Americans. Watermelon is one of the main stereotypes that is attributed to blacks and is used as source of entertainment when speaking about black people and black culture. 

I decided to join an ‘watermelon eating contest’, with a newer contest reenactment, in order to force the viewer to reexamine the mockery that has been made of blacks in American history. The viewer is made aware of the difference in time and the re-enactors are now aware of their role as blacks, aggressively eating watermelon.