Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic

Movement I – The Visions (completed 2014)

Movement II – The Seamstress

Movement III – The Deities

Movement IV – The Soldier


I'm currently exploring themes such as biomythography, re-memory, and magical realism which I’m using as aids in challenging my personal methods of delivering visual narrative through the use of film, sound, and sculpture. Biomythography, is a term coined by poet and author Audre Lorde in her book, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. Biomythography is rooted in intersectional practice and encourages "toeing the line" of myth, historical references, and biography in epic narrative form. It's all about standpoint and one's personal point of view of the world in an objective and subjective space, simultaneously. With my experimental series Be Alarmed, I've created a conceptual epic film, sound, and visual art work rooted in my personal familial history, my current biography, and themes that may relate to the greater African-American experience.

My series Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic has given me room to place my physical self within my work both literally and figuratively. This is a series derived from my experience watching film trailers at a time in my childhood where I was not allowed to watch a great number of films due to parental censorship. During this period of time I came to see the film trailers that played before the films I had access to as the film "itself". Be Alarmed as a series will be comprised of four parts, with the first part being Movement I - The Visions and each series contains a set of trailers and scenes that will eventually function as the overall film. Except in this case there is no full linear film, just trailers, scenes, narrative objects and film stills that give insight to the overall narrative arc of the "film".

Be Alarmed is an epic film. An epic film is a genre of film that emphasizes human drama on a grand scale, is often set during a time of societal crisis, and covers a long range of time. With Be Alarmed I am deconstructing and exploring this idea alongside the format of film trailers which will include key elements of my personal familial history in America from the 1930s to present day. With each movement within the series to accompany the trailers I have also created a series of sculptures and artifacts that are situated within the narrative of the film, creating my own Black Americana in the form of sculptural objects that also serve as a form film memorabilia, outside and within the film, that aid in the telling of the overall narrative story. With each object there is an integral sentimental value embedded within these objects' due to their relationship and use within the film, therefore making them also a part of the overall films narrative. I am also taking a look at the idea and genre of an epic film and what that looks like if deconstructed to represent a larger work through the use of the shorter film sequence format.


Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement I - The Visions

Tiona McClodden

January 1, 2014


Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic

Movement I - The Visions 

Tiona McClodden (solo exhibition)
Jan. 31 - March 15, 2014 
Esther Klein Art Gallery - Philadelphia, PA 

W A I T (group show)

On View: May 17 – June 7, 2014

Project 4 Gallery - Washington, DC

Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement I - The Visions


The film Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement I – The Visions, set in North Philadelphia, PA, introduces the main character, The Haint, portrayed by actress Danielle Deadwyler. The Haint is a spirit who that is a mute, except for the few times that she speaks, which is in a "screwed" tone, otherwise she communicates through the use of film subtitles. Her primary communication is with The Heroine, who is portrayed by McClodden. The Haint embodies emotional and physical characteristics of the maternal, paternal, and spiritual elements of McClodden’s personal and familial history. By presenting a series of minimalist trailers, scenes, and film press kit displays McClodden hopes to encourage the viewer to ‘fill in the blanks’ in regards to the larger narrative of the idea behind the work.


SCENE I: Offerings.

SCENE II:Bout’ Time, Protection 

SCENE III:The Hem of Her Garment. 

SCENE IV:Vulnerability 

Trailer I,Family Tree

Trailer II, Spirit Away

Trailer III, Steal Away 

Trailer IV, Initiation 

Bonus Scene,SCENE V, One year and seven days 


The Third attempt 2012, The Puzzle Box, The Legend, 2013 

Sweet Brown, 2013 

The Deities, 2013 

The First Attempt, Wade in De Water,2013

The Second Attempt, Follow The Drinking Gourd, 2013 

The Etymology of A Surname, 2013 

The Haint's clothing, 2013 

dem silvers, 2013 

crooked ass teeth, 2012

Protection from all bad things, 2013

Portrait of my mother and father, 2013 

The Etymology of A Surname, 2013 

The Seamstress 

FILM POSTERS & STILL FRAMES: Film Poster #1 Dear Papa, Matte Digital C-Print 27 X 40in. Film Poster #2 Marvis, Matte Digital C-Print 27 X 40in. Film Poster #3 Mother, Matte Digital C-Print 27 X 40in. Film Poster # 4 Father, Matte Digital C-Print 27 X 40in. Be Alarmed The Black Americana Epic, Movement I – The Visions Presskit,  Matte Digital C-Prints, 9 - 8 x 10 Film Stills, 4- 11 x 14 in. Lobby Cards 

Using Format