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Hazel Katz: Who Gets To Die
Friday, April 1, 2022 - Sunday, May 8, 2022

Hazel Katz: Who Gets to Die

Friday, April 1, 2022 – Sunday, May 8, 2022
Presented in Black Box

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About the Film

Who Gets to Die is an essay film about death and dying in pop culture, prison, and the films of Hilary Swank. Hilary Swank is a vector whose roles in films like “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999) and “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) are part of a visual culture that posits representation as good-in-itself. The project is grounded in Jasbir Puar’s text “The Right to Maim” (2017), in which Puar describes how the state punishes some with death. For others the state makes living a halflife – often through debility – that’s a punishment for existing in the first place.

Who Gets to Die wants to know whether and how structural change happens through images. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter and Defund movements, academic campaigns for increased representation and visibility have taken up gestures of abolition. At the same time that research universities whirr along with handouts from weapons manufacturers, humanities departments bring in Black, Indigenous, disabled and/or transgender students and faculty to declare that everyone is welcome here.

To make a formal critique of the representation-industrial complex, I don’t show any of the real people I am talking about. Focusing exclusively on actors exposes some of the hidden machinery that constructs images. In addition to actors, I include imagery of behind-the-scenes footage and special effects breakdowns of movies.

I draw on personal experience of mental illness and suicidality to extend Puar’s claim to those who want to die but who are denied death. Who Gets to Die uses pop cultural figures like Michael Jackson and Dr. Kevorkian to examine how death can be both confining and liberating to different people in different situations. Ultimately the project investigates the fungibility of certain people’s bodies and how processes of dying are monetized by state institutions.

About the Artist

Hazel Katz is a Los Angeles-based video artist and filmmaker focusing on the politics of visibility through reenactment and pop culture archives. Her films have been shown on public television and festivals internationally, and her 2019 feature documentary Florida Water is now distributed by Collective Eye Films. Hazel recently completed a yearlong collaborative residency at UnionDocs and is currently pursuing an MFA in Visual Arts at UC San Diego.
More Info: hazelscomputer.com / @dripping_hazel