Ilisa Barbash, right, who produced the ethnographic film <em>Sweetgrass</em> with Lucien Castaing-Taylor, left, presents the film at Bar Harbor's Reel Pizza Cinerama on May 14.Ilisa Barbash, right, who produced the ethnographic film Sweetgrass with Lucien Castaing-Taylor, left, presents the film at Bar Harbor's Reel Pizza Cinerama on May 14. Credit: Rose Lincoln/Harvard News OfficeBAR HARBOR — Visual anthropologist Ilisa Barbash presents her work exploring race, relationships between vulnerability and violence, nature and culture, and more during two days of film screenings and presentations May 14-15.

The documentary film Sweetgrass, Barbash’s unsentimental elegy to the American West, screens at Reel Pizza Cinerama at 1:30 p.m. on May 14. A second documentary, In and Out of Africa, which focuses on African culture and art, plays at College of the Atlantic’s Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Community Center the next evening, March 15, at 7 p.m. Barbash will lead a Q&A after each film.

Among the Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology's most important and controversial objects are fifteen daguerreotypes of African and African-American slaves from 1850, taken by Joseph Zealy. The images were unexamined until discovered in a Peabody attic in 1976.Among the Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology's most important and controversial objects are fifteen daguerreotypes of African and African-American slaves from 1850, taken by Joseph Zealy. The images were unexamined until discovered in a Peabody attic in 1976. Credit: Peabody MuseumEarlier in the Gates Center on March 15, at 4:10 p.m., Barbash presents a talk entitled, “Exposing Latent Images: Daguerreotypes in the Museum and Beyond,” which delves into the most important and controversial objects in Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

All events are free of charge.

Barbash is Curator of Visual Anthropology at the Peabody, where for 13 years she has made films, written about and curated photographic and other exhibitions. She co-directed both films In and Out of Africa (1992) and Sweetgrass (2009) with Lucien Castaing-Taylor. Sweetgrass aired on PBS’s POV, was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards, and was part of the US State Department and UCS’s 2012 American Documentary Showcase.

Sweetgrass follows the last modern-day cowboys as they lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana’s breathtaking and often dangerous Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer pasture. This unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed. The film is, “A one-of-a-kind experience. At once epic-scale and earthbound,” according to Variety.

In and Out of Africa focuses on Nigerian art dealer Gabai Barre as he travels from the rural Ivory Coast to East Hampton, in Long Island, New York, for an art sale. “In and Out of Africa is a classic work that will richly repay viewing in a variety of courses in African studies, cultural anthropology, and art,” Berkeley Media says. “This extraordinary documentary is one of the most intelligent, perceptive, and engaging “Sweetgrass,” an Ilisa Barbash documentary, will be shown at Bar Harbor's Reel Pizza Cinerama on May 14.“Sweetgrass,” an Ilisa Barbash documentary, will be shown at Bar Harbor's Reel Pizza Cinerama on May 14.films ever made on African culture and art. It explores with irony and humor issues of authenticity, taste, and racial politics in the transnational trade in African art.”

Among the Peabody Museum’s most important and controversial objects are fifteen daguerreotypes of African and African-American slaves from 1850, taken by Joseph Zealy. The daguerreotypes were not examined until 1976.

In “Exposing Latent Images: Daguerreotypes in the Museum and Beyond,” Barbash will discuss how scholars and artists have used these portraits in discussions and depictions of race, photography, vision, gender, power, the body, and anthropology. The objects were originally acquired by Louis Agassiz, the first director of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, who hoped they would bolster the erroneous theory of polygenesis which held that people of different races were of different species. A contemporary of Darwin’s, Agassiz never published these images and they remained unexamined until their 1976 discovery in a Peabody attic.

Barbash is currently at work on a film, about girls and high school debate, with Lucia Small. She co-authored Cross-cultural Filmmaking: A Handbook for Making Documentary and Ethnographic Films and Video (UC Press 1997) and co-edited The Cinema of Robert Gardner (Berg Press 2007). She is most recently the author of book Where the Roads All End: Photography and Anthropology in the Kalahari (Peabody Museum Press, 2017).