Until, Until, Until by Edgar Arceneaux (USA, 2015).

Edgar Arceneaux presents a screening and discussion of Until, Until, Until…, a short feature film which originated as a theatrical play. In this work, Arceneaux examines Broadway legend Ben Vereen’s controversial blackface performance at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inaugural celebration. Vereen’s musical number, an homage to trailblazing black vaudeville performer Bert Williams, delivered a provocative critique to the Republican audience. Shown on television a day later in a truncated version that omitted the last five minutes and subverted his critical intentions, the broadcast triggered a heated backlash and derailed Vereen’s career for decades. Arceneaux’s film restages the entire performance and restores Vereen’s original ending, reflecting on the power of media (mis)representation as well as on what can happen when an artist is completely misunderstood.

The film is presented in conjunction with the colloquium DRAG FACE, hosted by the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, and the exhibition organized by the MIT List Visual Arts Center, “Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire,” on view from October 14, 2016—January 8, 2017.

Free tickets will be available at any MFA ticket desk starting at 10 am on the day of the screening. Seating is limited; admission is not guaranteed.

Above: Until, Until, Until…, 2015. A Performa commission for Performa 15. Co-commissioned by the MIT List Visual Arts Center and Performa. Photo: Paula Court, courtesy Performa.