respite, reprieve and healing: an evening of cleansing
April 29, 2019
As a Black queer woman living inside a world that is constantly trying to kill me, “Respite, Reprieve, and Healing: An Evening of Cleansing” is my latest work for my 2019 thesis solo show. Elements of performance, live music, sculpture and improvisation is the artistic foundation of this piece. I’m tired, and I’ve been tired for a very long time.
Imagine the collective fatigue of being Black, now imagine us living in our healing and dignity. This piece is an ode to both my exhaustion and my respite.
Performance 1: Hair Washing
The sink is a fixed object that we find mostly commonly in kitchens and bathrooms. You wash your hands, you do your dishes, you rinse things off. We also see sinks in salons where Black people often frequent. Hair wash explores the mundane experience of washing Black hair. The single sink as a sculptural object will wash the hair of 10 Black performers, each of them wearing the same long white linen robe. The materials: coconut milk, salt and honey each represent the history of Blackness and the futurity of these materials. Performers and their hair will ultimately be bound together by the end of the performance and their bodies will be rubbed down with tea tree and lavender oil.
Performance 2: With Weight/ With Release
In an endurance performance Patrisse will be in a 100-year-old porcelain claw foot tub. Inside the tub will be salt covering her body from neck down. The salt as material becomes a continued character in both of the pieces. Salt as a form of meditation and as a weighted object. During this piece Patrisse will be accompanied by live music directed by Damon Davis. His song, “Light Years,” featuring Tonina will be orchestrated by LA Street Symphony. During the musical production Patrisse will perform a 45-minute performance piece in it she embodies the weight of anti-Blackness while also exploring the resilience of Blackness. A trough filled with coconut milk in which Patrisse will bathe herself in becomes a central pivot in the piece — the respite of bathing. Finally, Patrisse will undress from the traditional African garb she will be in during the piece and she will hang her clothes up above the sink that was used in the first piece.
Performance by: Patrisse Cullors
Curated by: Damon Turner
Hair Adornment and Make up by: Nena Soul Fly
Performance Documentation by: Jorge Nuno
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