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
“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.
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.
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.
my father’s body
has found its way into my own
the forehead expands, the hair recedes
extends into my stomach…keeps extending
seeping into leg bones degeneratively.…
mom’s here too
fully in thighs widened
a rounded high end
towards heart’s inner sanctum inner strength
to mind’s brewing bipolarity
permeable mental precarity
present whether i try to hide it or not.
i’m sometimes ashamed
don’t always pay attention
struggle with yet embrace
evolving pains, woes, fissures, the growths…
all needs tending
a responsive love
this cultured body
taking a moment to take in/look at various thoughts shared via facebook and email of those who witnessed the world premiere of what the body knows : a dance suite of two solos and a duet. here’s one in particular, reflecting on various moments within the solo “ele’fant” and duet “carry”:
“To make a new world, we need to create new aesthetics. Barak Adé Soleil is making a new aesthetic, and it is the most destabilizing thing I have ever seen. This is more than a remix of existing body politics; beyond addressing the oppression and hegemony of current race, disability, gender, and sexuality behavior/discourse, his work is opening a door to a new way of being human in our crazy world. He eats the poisoned apple from our hands and regurgitates the pieces for us to see. He crawls the floor with the force of a freight train and ploughs through our psyches. He slams his body against the walls, and the walls shake. After “what the body knows,” someone asked me where do we go from here? ANYWHERE WE WANT.”
– Mary Wu
more reflections to come from what the body knows and other presentations this year…