M/S of Eartha Kitt with her back to us, taking off her jumper; she is wearing a black leotard with a white sash and black seamed tights. She starts to do some leg stretches, still with her back to us and holding onto a barbell.
M/S from the side as we see her face now - looking very feline - meow! She does various stretches and ballet limbering up exercises. She walks across the room where various other pieces of gym equipment stand and, with the help of a man in a blue boiler suit with ‘Great Britain’ written across the front, she gets onto an exercise bike and starts to pedal very fast.
High angle M/S as she gets off the bike and collapses onto a mat on the floor. As she lies on her back the man in the boiler suit (who we now learn is Al Murray, coach to the British weightlifting team at the last Olympics) lowers a barbell down to her. She lifts the weights by moving her arms backwards and forwards over her head.
Al adds some weights to a shoulder exercise machine; Eartha stands on a small platform with a metal bar over her shoulder and lifts up to stand on her toes - somehow this is exercising her calf muscles! She next lies down on a bench lifted at an angle with her feet hooked under a strap at the upper end and stretches out, then starts to do some sit ups.
Commentator says “We’ve actually kaleidoscoped a two hour training session into two minutes but it does at least give you an idea. Most of us would have been just about ready to collapse, but to Eartha Kitt it was just a ‘warm-up’ before the real business of the evening.”
Note: On file are press releases from the Talk of the Town, where Eartha was appearing at the time; interesting list of ‘some of the important people who have come to see Eartha during her first month at The Talk of the Town’.
A clip on permanently straightening hair of African women from 1948!!!
"Curly or straight, nature eventually comes out on top."
British Colonies Club, London.
C/U mass of afro hair. Various shots of black hairdresser Carmen England doing an African woman’s hair. Carmen brushes the hair, she then treats it with “secret oils”. She divides the hair into sections and uses heated steel combs to straighten the woman’s hair. M/S of woman looking in mirror - Carmen has styled her hair typical 40s fashion. C/U of woman.
Cataloguer’s note: very unusual to come across story about ethnic minorities’ beauty regimes at this time. AH 2001.
I’m crying so hard!
British Pathé just put a massive archive of 90.000 historical videos online. Including videos of Ghana’s celebration of independence in 1957 and the opening of Ghana Parliament in 1960. This is golden! Goosebumps!
MA: For starters, the word ‘extimacy’ is a smart inversion. How did you arrive at naming this new body of work?
HK: I was doing some research about terms that describe an ‘other’ or inbetween space, searching for some definition which transcends a dualistic principle. I first came across the Foucauldian heterotopia [put forth by French philosopher Michel Foucault which suggests that there are spaces of ‘otherness’ that are at once physical and mental]. I found it very interesting in terms of relating it to Diasporic cultures, yet it still felt rather distant. I then started reading texts by Elizabeth Grosz [Australian feminist who has interpreted the work of philosophers, including Foucault] where she mentions the Möbius strip as a structure that is conceived and contingent upon the inside as well as the outside. Within this line of thought, the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan coined the term extimité ─ derived from the words ‘exterior’ and ‘intimacy’ ─ which simultaneously describes the distinction between the two words as well as the sum or effect of them. In many ways, the use of skin in the work denotes this very concept of an exteriority or border of the body that is inverted and placed within the context of the inside of the body in the work.