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.