Ode to AND1 Basketball: Notes on the Sporting Black Body
Ode to AND1 Basketball, Digital Video, HD, 8 min, 2020
Picture Collage (made by Dannielle Washington), Photograph, 2000s
Anaheim Colonists Varsity Women’s Basketball, Anaheim High School, 2002
Current State of Everything: Body As Archive, Gif, 2019
Ode to AND1: Notes on the Sporting Black Body is an analytical video essay that uses archival VHS footage from the AND1 Mixtape Vol. 1 (1998), documentation of a travelling basketball competition and exhibition presented by the sports apparel company AND1. The work illustrates how video editing techniques can extend the meaning and motion of the Black body in digital space.
I was raised to be an athlete. My sisters and I participated in organized sports since we were five, our athleticism and church upbringing set the tone for us being and becoming in the world. Tee-ball baseball was the introduction, softball kept us ambitious, however, basketball gave me an identity. It brought a sense of authority and discipline, driving me toward an unceasing evolution as a player, as a creator. In my youth, AND1 Mix Tape Vol. 1 (1998) and AND1 Mix Tape Vol. 2 (1999)1 were resources studied religiously until the tapes unraveled.
As a child, I memorized the streetball player’s mastery on the court. In dream-state, I envisioned my body within their performing / competing bodies, knowing their perception on the court. I was expectant and capable because I could see it. And, because I could see it, I knew it. Every day, after finishing my homework, I would pass up the hoop on our rooftop for the sidewalk and dribble inside the squares: high-stepping, pounding the ball into a cross-over, head fake hesitation, between the legs and around the back on any imaginary defender that stepped to me.
The isolation was voluntary, the imagining was a result. It was meditation wrapping myself up in memory and vision, in mimicry of motion not my own but becoming mine. In these moments, my focus separated my body from the surrounding world. The repetition of movement sparked an energy inside of me. Every elusive jolt more spiritual than the last, anticipating something not yet and something just becoming. Every thought edging closer to trance until I embodied the streetball player’s motion, an affective experience of transformation. There has always been a knowing in basketball, it’s biological, psychological, and sociological.