Making a Difference
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my newest developing contemporary work “markings” is part of this exhibit; performative impressions that center disabled and Deaf folx through an intersectional lens. the work on view for the exhibit reflects an unfolding process to develop floor “markings”, as well as an ASL video collaboration with Deaf Spectrum featuring Nur Abdulle signing. a performative action that initiated the floor markings occurred on February 8 – the opening of the exhibition – and further unfolded over a three days process. during the three days, disabled folx [and some ableds] were offered the option to leave an impression on a 6 x 8 foot piece of grey painted corrugated cardboard. I then detailed each impression with colored pencils, further shaping the mark. the second day more crip folx showed up and dialogued about the work, witnessed my initial embodiment of each mark that had been left, and left more impressions. The third day I concluded the process by embodying each marking, imbuing them with a physical action that signified the labor of presence, an acknowledgement of those d/Deaf and disabled bodies for whom the action/labor of being present in spaces like this gallery is not always an option in an ableist world.
the image above from the opening also emphasizes the importance of the placement of the floor piece, ultimately becoming an “intervention” to those who used stairs.
below are some images taken by Geoff Albores and Orlando Hunter during the further activation of this work. The images include stills of the floor markings and the video collaboration.
October of 2018, for Toronto’s international festival 7a*11d,
I presented an iteration of ‘a series of movements‘:
time shifts. the body moves. a black disabled body moves. queerly.
Reflecting a continued corporeal exploration of the intertwining legacies of race and disability, i offered solo selections from compositions that navigate the seemingly pedestrian, transitory and performative ways one moves and is moved through the world.
Writers Geneviève Wallen and Francesco Gagliardi were commissioned to reflect on various presentations of the festival. Both writers’ full reflections can be found on the festival website under “tender considerations” and “RE:FRAMING” respectively.
Here are their reflections on my presentatio:
Barak adé Soleil’s a series of movements [Toronto] is a work deeply rooted in love, one
that attends, protects, acknowledges and most importantly amplifies more than one
voice. The acknowledgement introducing the performance highlighted the urgency in
recognizing the multiple ways in which bodies are connected to one another, and the
importance of carving space for plural ways of being. To further emphasize his plea, adé
Soleil requested that the members of the audience enter the theater in an order and
pathway that was predicated on social access and mobility—pressing on socially
constructed hierarchies and one’s attentiveness to able-bodied privileges. Adé Soleil’s
movements examined various forms of actions from crawling, rolling, leaning, to using
mobility devices, and ultimately standing. The artist’s connection with the public was
meant to be multilayered; at times it was gentle and other times more confrontational,
all while investigating the weight of different stages of verticality. Even while
underscoring his bodily rapport with architecture and the public space, he also
highlighted how one’s humanity and desirability can be easily dismissed through
numerous societal intersections, one being disability. Adé Soleil also intentionally
brought to the surface the violence of ongoing archival and cultural erasure.
a series of movements [Toronto] is based on the seminal work of well-known Belgian
choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve
Reich (1982). The footage in Reich’s notorious piece Come Out (1966), featured in De
Keersmaeker’s choreography, originates from a too familiar story of extreme physical
abuse and systematic anti-Blackness. Indeed the words “come out” were
decontextualized from the infamous sentence by Daniel Hamm from the Harlem Six: “I
had to, like, open up the bruise and let the blood come out to show them”. This gut
wrenching sentence was a testament to the police brutality endured by Hamm and other
Black males while being unjustly incarcerated—he being one of the eldest, nineteen
years young. He had to take this intense measure, opening up a bruise, to reclaim his
humanity and get medically treated for his injuries. Reich had access to this testimony in
a facilitated exchange with the civil rights activist, writer, and
curator Truman Nelson.  By removing the context and applying auditory distortions
to the words “come out”, the history was lost, and capitalized on by individuals who
would further Daniel Hamm’s erasure from the collective consciousness—individuals
such as De Keersmaeker. The appropriation by adé Soleil of movements from Fase, Four
Movements to the Music of Steve Reich and of techniques applied in the work Come Out
was an attempt to take back what has been lost—a voice, a place in the collective
imagination, legitimacy—while bridging the past and the present. More than fifty years
later such narrative is still an intrinsic part of collective fear, loss and anger.
Moreover, adé Soleil contracted an ASL interpreter to translate while he was reciting his
revised version of the looping piece Come Out. He explained that sign language is a
choreography in itself that has the power to amply what is linguistically difficult to
communicate, and in this case it added a visual language to Black male experiences, in
order to tap into embodied memory.
footnotes as indicated via bracketed numbers [20 – 22] referenced —
 The story of the Harlem Six is a narrative of Black male teenagers and young adults—Wallace Baker, Daniel Hamm, William Craig, Ronald Felder, Walter Thomas, and Robert Rice—wrongly convicted for the murder of a white couple who were shop owners in Harlem. Daniel Hamm’s statement is from an interview he did with Truman Nelson after his first night in a police station for the little fruit stand riot, in 1964.To learn more about this story see James Baldwin’s article “A Report from Occupied Territory”, published in the Nation magazine in 1966.
 Nelson sought out Reich to help him edit several tapes with interviews featuring the Harlem Six, their mothers, and the police, in order to write The Torture of Mothers and support legal procedures. In exchange for his labour, Reich asked that if he found something interesting, he be allowed to use it for his art practice. The resulting sound collage Come Out was used to help raise funds for the Harlem Six’s retrial, but mainly became Reich’s big artistic break. See Brent Hayes Edwards, Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination (Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA & London, England, 2017), p. 246.
 Barak adé Soleil in discussion with the writer, November 2018.
this new work – “markings” emerges as performative impressions that center disabled and Deaf folx through an intersectional lens. Resisting pervasive notions that erase disabled and Deaf bodies from conceptions of the future, i seek to reflect how these communities can and will occupy space as we evolve as a society. in addition to a floor piece that will be created in real time, a video collaboration with Deaf Spectrum will be exhibited in ‘conversation’ with the floor markings. the video features Nur Abdulle signing as a linguistic expression of mark-making.
1991. I had the transformational opportunity to perform in your work
at Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, MN.
this was my first professional production.
what a rite of passage, to take on your words, the dance of them, the physicality of them,
and to perform them, conjure the work with a distinguished group of black creative folx.
to don the minstrel mask, legacy through picking cotton, lindy-hopping and grooving till we arrived into the 70’s, where the spell unfolds through our impassioned voices.
to transport ourselves into that bar/club, that part of NYC, to embody those ‘actor’ characters as they shared, poeticized, strutted, expressed dimensions of blackness that both awakened and mystified my own blackness.
I sang a song that was not meant for me
played a guitar that was never more than plucking strings
kissed a woman deeply with all of my queer breath held tightly
and stumbled to break open my creative universe
i’m still stumbling… with the spell of your work still nurturing/resting in my soul
I say you name
give offering to sweeten your palate
soften your pathway to foreverness
pull back into the words of the spells you have crafted
I call your name acknowledging you amongst the creative ancestors who profoundly shaped/changed the way we/I expressed and experience theatre/performance
sssssssssssssssspelllllll number SEVEN!
offering this text i developed as a ‘c/krip’ acknowledgement for iteration of “a series of movements” most recently presented at 7a*11d’s 2018 International Festival of Performance Art in Toronto, Canada…with thanks to curator Golboo Amani and ASL interpreter Tala Jalili for their further questions, reflections and reading of this acknowledgement, and a shout out to black disabled activist, writer Leroy Moore who uses “krip” instead of “crip” in relation to naming/reclaiming of the term by select disability identified folx.
this acknowledgement also includes text used for a statement on access developed some years ago for 2016 Hemispheric Institute Encuentro in Santiago, Chile.
“Aligned with the acknowledgement of indigenous folx, their distinct traditions and ongoing care for the land we reside on, the essential actions we must take to undo the colonial practices that perpetuate the erasure of indigenous folx’ profound contributions to the planet….
This is an affirmation of a diversity of bodies. Disabled bodies, politically crip, chronically ill, sick, spoonie, Mad, Deaf, DDBDDHHLD [Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, Hard of Hearing, Late Deafened], interdimensional, neurodivergent, non visual learners…Folx who culturally may not identify as “disabled” but whose bodies are truly welcomed in spaces that are barrier free, sign language friendly, scent reduced, trigger reduced, low lit or well lit, relaxed, sensory friendly….with wayfinding and haptic technology, centralized seating for wheels, scoots, crutches, walkers, canes, caregivers, companions, service animals, overflowing emotions…and alternate areas to occupy or roam when desired. Spaces fluid and responsive. Spaces where interdependence is never questioned but embraced.
Communal spaces are created and we are thoughtfully invited. We ask the question: is it accessible? and we get “grandfathered” – patriarchy, colonialism and history converging to reinforce ableism and its architectural legacies of structural inequity. How to move within a space and architecture that is not always built with our bodies in mind, is a continuing conscious navigation of humanity. This is an acknowledgement of the ways our bodies negotiate the spaces with labour, effort, finesse and grace.
WE are disabled among other identifiers that have meaning to OURSELVES and the communities we interact with and love. and when WE ask the question about access, it’s not just about OUR disability but the expanse… the invitation, welcoming anyone who’s desiring to be present for the experience of engaging with art and each other.
In navigating [a series of movements], You as a witness are welcome to also move, to sit, to be on two feet or bring a chair into the space…. to explore your own series of movements through the space within the theatre that Barak will be moving, responding to where you desire to be to view the body’s moments, or to take a moment to be in the gallery space. When you are viewing, we ask you to consider that you are in a space with bodies of various heights and with various potential desires to be seated, to be lower or higher in viewing. A space where some folx will be communicated to through sign, through gestures, where they may tune in with quietude or vocally respond…You are in a space with a diversity of bodies. “+++
+++ please do not use this acknowledgement without permission.
September 14, 2018 – CHICAGO
For the opening of the new exhibit “Chicago Disability Activism, Arts and Design: 1970’s to Today” at Gallery400, Friday September 14 from 6:30pm -7:30pm, i will perform “from here to there. Archive from my evolving lived experience navigating physical disability will also be on display. proud to be in this exhibition with other disability identified artists, activists and designers.
#ChicagoComeThrough #CripFolkUnite #ArchivingTheDisabledBody #WheelChairCrutchesCanes #Intersectionality #MomentToMomentBreathToBreath #newPerformativeExploration #BlackIsBold #UIC #ChicagoAdapt #Neurodiversity
October 7, 2018 – TORONTO
looking forward to sharing creative work – “a series of movements” – in Toronto, on Sunday, October 7 at 4:30pm, as part of 2018 7a*11d international festival of performance art ! grateful for the thoughtful curation of Golboo Amani in association with the great collective members of 7a*11d!
#aSeriesOfMovements #TheBlackDisabledBodyMovesQueerly #OhCanada #TravelingWhileBeingAnArtist #CreativeFlow
October 13, 2018 – HALIFAX
i’m performing a new explorative performance – “wha(i)le” – as part of Nocturne 2018 in Halifax on October 13 from 6pm – midnight (with intervals of rest) at the Maritime Museum , thoughtfully curated by Raven Davis.
#NomadicReciprocity #WhaileEmerges #DisabilityAesthetics #BlacknessinNovaScotia #BuildingACommunalSpace #HalifaxinOctober #OhCanada #2018CreativeTour