Jail Bird in a Peacock Chair

James Gregory Atkinson’s performative short film centers the history of the iconic Peacock Chair to interrogate contemporary social contexts and historical concepts of identities. The film engages the chair’s origins in forced prison labor in the Philippines, its status as an internationally traded “exotic” commodity, its use in portrait photography, and its associations with Black radical activists such as Huey P. Newton—to explore ideas of Black masculinities and resistance.
Through its filmic choreography of body and architecture, this work interweaves a nonlinear, experimental commentary on the American prison-industrial complex and the concept of the panopticon, and reflects both individual and governmental states of emergency.
by James Gregory Atkinson
with Black Cracker
Germany / USA 2021 English 4’ Colour


  • Black Cracker


Written and Directed by James Gregory Atkinson
Cinematography Marcel Izquierdo Torres
Editing Marcel Izquierdo Torres
Music Goodsteph
Sound Design Lessay
Production Managers Mearg Negusse, Friederike Seifert
Producer James Gregory Atkinson

Produced by

James Gregory Atkinson

James Gregory Atkinson

James Gregory Atkinson, a graduate of the Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main, is an artist who works with film, photography, and performance. His practice responds to the radical incompleteness of official archives of Black narratives and culture by creating alternative ways of encountering the past. His work across media draws on, edits, and modifies queer and Black histories as a way of placing them in dialogue with the present. In 2018, he curated “Re:Re: Black Macho. Unleash the Queen” at Philipp Pflug Contemporary, Frankfurt. Currently a recipient of the Basis e.V. Frankfurt’s HAP Studio Programme, he has participated in artist-in-residence programs in Los Angeles, Maastricht, and New York.

Filmography (selection)

2012 Power Balance; 8 min. 2019 Detroit Archive; 3 min. · The Day I Stopped Kissing my Father; 4 min. 2021 6 Friedberg-Chicago; 6 min. · Jail Bird in a Peacock Chair

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2022