Nanna Heidenreich

Whose Portrait? Fabulations and triangulations in Shirley Clarkes Portrait of Jason (USA 1967)


Shirley Clarke (1919-1997), as she described herself once, a “white lady director” made films that focused almost exclusively on Black figures. PORTRAIT OF JASON (1967), her fourth feature length film, a ‘portrait’ of Jason Holliday – black, gay and a self-declared hustler – raises questions about truth claims on all levels: what do we see when we see this ‘portrait’? Who is before and behind the camera, whose camera is it anyways, whose identity, whose story, and who else is (not) in the picture? I propose to think about this film and the many questions it raises as a set of triangulations (aesthetically, politically and by way of gossip and speculation).



Nanna Heidenreich is a media and cultural studies scholar, curator and professor for transcultural studies at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Her most recent publication is the anthology fAKE hYBRID sITES pALIMPSEST. Essays on Leakages (with Madhusree Dutta, 2021). She lives in Berlin and Vienna.