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A History of Grief, Volksbuhne Berlin- De Vleeshal Middelburg

Comments from the audience

The transformation from willing audience participant to criminal perpetrator enthroned on her back was simultaneously stunningly disturbing and illuminating. For each face held an unavoidable self-implication. The participant sat passively but somehow mysterious thoughts, guilt, evasion, indifference, denial seem to invade each silent face. It is impossible to sit on a kneeling woman without the conjuring of impervious domination.

Patrice Naiambana – African Performing Artist, Lead Animateur of Tribal Soul Arts CIC

For the performance A history of grief I am inspired by three Black female freedom fighters.
Namely Queen Nzinga (1583-1663), CARLOTA LukumÍ died in 1844 and Marie-Joseph Angélique (1700-1734)
I chose these stories cause they all have an element of mutulation and humiliating the black female body. While at the same time these powerful women fought for freedom and justice and their believes. Their stories are ignored within the white western curriculum.

The performance

15 members of the audience are seated on my back while I read the complete verdict  Marie Joseph Angelique. 

 This scene is inspired by the story of Queen Nzinga using a servant as a chair, because the oppressor refused to offer her one. But it also symbolizes the heavy burden of ignored histories about the important roles black females played in the struggle for equality and liberation.

Behind the scene is a projection of the verdict on an image of a naked black woman who’s body This scene is inspired by the horrific story of the mutulation of Carlota. The repressive forces tied her to horses sent to run in opposite direction in order to destroy her body completely so that she would be unrecognizable forever.

During the readings there will be an African drummer on stage playing the talking drum 

The clean up woman Stedelijk museum Amsterdam

 Inspired by the a performance of Mierle Laderman Ukeles, in which she cleaned the MOMA in New York, I dressed up as a cleaning woman and started  cleaning the Stedelijk museum. Mierle’s work was about making a feminist statement.  My performance is showing the relation between power dynamics and invisibility within white institutions.
The occasional black spots in this museum represented by security, catering personal, cleaners reminded me of a passage in Ralph Ellison’s book Invisible man. The protagonist works in a paint factory where the white paint for the white house is manufactured. His job is to mix the paint with one drop of black paint in order to make it look more radiant white.
The black spots in this museum emphasize the power of whiteness.

The performance was part the exhibition “ Bell Invites” in collaboration with Emory Douglas and the HIPHopHuis, the University of Color which took place in Stedelijk Bureau Amsterdam and at the Global Performance’ forum at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, both curated by Vivian Ziherl.

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