Naima Ramos-Chapman

Female Artists Delete Rape’s ‘Heroic’ Underpinnings

“Is there a way to talk about sexual assault that doesn’t dwell on the brutality of the act itself on women’s bodies in a way that is treated as action or eroticized?” the artist Naima Ramos-Chapman asked at a recent symposium at John Jay College, in association with the exhibition “The Un-Heroic Act: Representations of Rape in Contemporary Women’s Art in the U.S.”

Naima Ramos-Chapman Injects Untold Histories with Fantasy

“Ramos-Chapman often draws on magical realism, grounding viewers in reality amidst fantastical narratives that have the power to grant characters agency outside of established social constructs. It is a mode she has perfected to show the beauty and complexities of contemporary black and brown life in America, including her own. “I think in some ways the work I make is an attempt to value where I come from, even if it’s only a few generations deep. I need to tell stories about my family despite not knowing all of the facts, or having all the documents, because those things were not given to me.”

Naima Ramos-Chapman Wants Men To Take Responsibility for Themselves

“There's a good chance you haven't seen the best short film made in the last decade. Naima Ramos-Chapman's And Nothing Happened didn't get much fanfare, didn't pick up a slew of awards, didn't secure her a trillion dollars to make a horror film or Marvel movie. Instead, it quietly devastated everyone who saw it and set her on a course to continue to be one of the most daring young directors alive. And Nothing Happened details a woman living with an unendingly complex array of emotions following a sexual assault. She tries to leave her home, to relate to her family, to get motivated to be herself again, to love her own body, to sexually excite herself, to just think and be, but her victimhood keeps intruding. It's a powerful few minutes, and it left me speechless after I saw it at the 2016 BlackStar Film Festival. Naturally, I'd be headed to see where this lighting bolt struck next.”

And Nothing Happened

“As a woman you’re instructed by society to walk through this world on edge but once you’ve been raped there’s this feeling that you have completely fallen off the cliff. Patriarchy has pushed you off it and there is no going back,” said Ramos-Chapman. ”And Nothing Happened is about this cliff, this surrealist chasm where the psycho-spiritual world is that nobody can see exists. Where past, present, and the future of what happened to you somewhat collide in space.”

And Nothing Happened

Ramos-Chapman says, “And Nothing Happened is an autobiographical account but it’s also a search for answers in how to articulate the emotional costs in the aftermath of rape. I hope the film understand how sexualized violence infects and interacts with all facets of our society from the bureaucracies and institutions that are designed to facilitate repair to the very mundane interactions we have with our families and ourselves in spaces deemed “safe.” I hope this film will offers healing and other ways to talk about how we can.”

Still Here

“I was drawn in because I felt very connected to [the story]; unfortunately, a lot of people within my own family had negative experiences with law enforcement and the criminal justice system, including my father who was incarcerated for 15 years when he was very young and sentenced to more than 200 years in prison wrongfully.He was young, he was Black, he was mentally unstable, and they threw the book at him. It was only until he was in prison when he wrote a lot about his own experiences that he garnered attention from Freedomways magazine and from Angela Davis and was able to learn enough about his case to fight and appeal the sentencing. So, he won his freedom. I grew up with that story in mind and being in close proximity to a lot of people within my community being threatened by the carceral state and being in prison. I’ve even had my own instances where a police officer has threatened to put me in jail or has put cuffs on my wrist in order to make an example. And I did nothing wrong except for hanging out in my own building. So, it really hit hard and close to home for me. When Zahra introduced this idea of working together, I knew instantly that it fell right in alignment with my overall mission of showing young women that where you are right now, there’s a way to accept it and then imagine a possibility in which we are free.”