Fiction. Literary Nonfiction. African American Studies. By remixing stories from novels and films to zoom in on the black presences within them, Tisa Bryant's UNEXPLAINED PRESENCE ruminates on the sublime power of history to shape culture in the subconscious of both the artist and the reader/viewer. Moving from interrogations of François Ozon's 8 Femmes and Virginia Woolf's Orlando to the machinations of the Regency House Party reality TV show, UNEXPLAINED PRESENCE weaves threads of myth, fact and fiction into previously unexplored narratives lurking in our collective imagination.
"This is truly a bold book, one that combines scenes of rich technicolor with the light of truth, at once invoking and dissolving cultural myths and faux histories."—Brenda Coultas
"Investigating the symbolic construction of identity and myth from the angle of art, Tisa Bryant's UNEXPLAINED PRESENCE takes up 'black presences in European literature, visual art, and film.' Fusing criticism, film theory, and fiction with a keenly poetic ear, Bryant reenters cultural artifacts to open up these symbolically loaded but structurally silenced or backgrounded characters and motifs. Her stories trace the ways in which black subjectivity is distributed or denied within pictures and plots, between viewers and artworks and artists, and in acts of conversation and debate, of queer identification or refusal to see. What is most remarkable is how Bryant transforms these elisions into acts of imagination, restoring or reconfiguring partially glimpsed subjects via fleet and surprising sentences that traverse the distance between representation and meaning."—San Francisco Bay Guardian