Saturday, 18 MAY 2013
5:00pm-6:30pm – Writing Through the Body: Performance Art

Performances are in the order they will be presented.

1) Wura-Natasha Ogunji  (USA/Nigeria) will begin by performing a selection (”Sweep”) from a series entitled: “Mo gbo, mo branch” (Yoruba for I heard and branched myself into the party) at the conference site. These performance works focus on the presence of women in public space in Lagos, Nigeria.

2) Then, Rosamond S. King (USA/Trinidad/The Gambia) will perform “Crossings,” a walking meditation in honor of Jayne Cortez and Syneta Elvina King that starts at the conference site and ends at the Atlantic Ocean. The movements used are inspired by those of Legba/Ellegua, and the rhythms of Caribbean and African-American music. Participants are invited to walk with the performer.

3) Gabrielle Civil’s (USA/Haiti) performance will take place at the site where King’s ends at the Atlantic Ocean. Gabrielle Civil will perform a reconfiguration of her performance work "Fugue," a meditation on diaspora movement, memory loss and homeland, inspired by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Click here for original full program

 

  • Writing Through the Body: Performance Art Yari 2013 (1144) Ghana-W Ogunji Outdoor

 1. Wura-Natasha Ogunji Photos - Writing Through the Body: Performance Art

Yari 2013 - YARI YARI NTOASO: Continuing the Dialogue – Accra, Ghana

  (Artist Statement Read More)

Sweep speaks about our connections to land and homeland via the body. It is a piece which emerges from questions I have about the relationship of the body to land and the nation in the context of current waves of forced and chosen immigration and migration at local, national and international levels. This performance is designed to happen in conjunction with participants from the local community. The size and location of the performance itself changes depending upon the specific locale.

In this performance a group of women carry heavy vessels on their heads. The vessels may be plastic, metal or enamel containers. They are of the variety used for washing, carrying foodstuffs or holding goods at market. Each vessel is filled with dirt and a small broom. The performers lower the vessels, spilling the dirt onto the ground. Using their hands the dirt is spread out before them. The women use their bodies to make impressions into this form, this temporary parcel of land. Feet and hands mark the makeshift earth. Then the impressions are swept away. They lay face down in the dirt, moving and shifting to leave more body marks. Between each impression the dirt is swept to disappear the trace. After several iterations of this body marking the dirt is returned to the vessels. The performers again lift the heavy containers up to their heads and exit in the slow manner that they arrived.

 

  • Writing Through the Body: Performance Art Fungai-Machiori-photo-12--Yari-2013

 2. Rosamond S. King Photos - Writing Through the Body: Performance Art

Yari 2013 - YARI YARI NTOASO: Continuing the Dialogue – Accra, Ghana

  (Artist Statement Read More)

Crossings was a walking meditation performance presented in Accra, Ghana in May 2013 as part of Yari Yari Ntoaso: Continuing the Dialogue: An International Symposium on Literature by Women of African Descent. King travelled from the symposium site to the Atlantic Ocean, dancing movements inspired by those of Legba/Ellegua (the god of the crossroads), and the rhythms of Caribbean and African-American music. Symposium participants and passers-by were encouraged to walk with the performer and experience the city in a different way. Crossings was created and performed in honor of Jayne Cortez and Syneta Elvina King.

 

3. Gabriele Civil - Photos & Video - Writing Through the Body: Performance Art

  • Writing Through the Body: Performance Art Yari 2013 (1693) Ghana-G Civil Outdoor Perform-Mbaasem photo

3. Gabriele Civil - Writing Through the Body: Performance Art

Yari 2013 - YARI YARI NTOASO: Continuing the Dialogue – Accra, Ghana

  (Artist Statement Read More)

“Fugue (dissolution, Accra)

“Fugue (dissolution, Accra)”was a meditation on diaspora movement, identity and homeland.

The piece reconfigured my 2011 performance “Fugue," a direct meditation on the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. With Bach's “Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor,” the Haitian lwa Ghede's chant of the dead, and my own chant and body, I aimed to evoke issues of dislocation, cultural dissonance and fusion. With dirt, stones, African braiding hair, a mirror and rolls of cash register paper, I also aimed to materialize trade economies and the possibility/ impossibility of capturing history.

In all of my work, whether in a theaters, art spaces or at specific sites, I am always thinking in terms of installation and environment, how to create and/or modify settings and structures. The space that I was entering for “Fugue (Dissolution, Accra)” was not just a literal site of performance, but also the symbolically charged space of the Atlantic Ocean, a crucial site in the black diasporic imagination.

The performance took place outside on an overhang over the beach. The audience included both Yari Yari attendees and a growing number of locals who came to bear witness. As Bach played, I greeted audience members with an offering of the mirror. When the music turned to Ghede, I danced and traced cash register routes between them with paper. Chanting my own sense of futility and impotence, I quaked local dirt. Covered in dirt, paper, hair and carrying the mirror like a flag, I continued chanting into the sea.

Spectators could follow me from the land to the water or watch me grow smaller and farther away. The piece ended not with a solution to diaspora grief but a “dissolution,” a “resulting state,” an “act or process of resolving or dissolving into parts or elements.” The dirt, the hair, the paper were all swept away as the waves pummeled my body. I held onto the mirror, which reflected African sky.

It was a true gift to be able to show “Fugue (dissolution, Accra)” at Yari Yari Ntoaso. In the context of an international black women’s conference, the work allowed me to showcase the complexity and pain of black identity and to make embodied links between Africa, Haiti and the U.S.