on silence and invisibility

i have been wanting to write this text for a while now.

 

as an artist and as a dancer i have been feeling the pressure to speak, to articulate my opinions and position in language, to document, record and list the things that i have done online.

as if this were some kind of proof.

translate this as: i have been feeling the pressure to defend myself.

i am trying to resist this

i do not want our conversation to begin at a place where i have to build myself up into something that you recognise. i think recognition can be the end of hope for a conversation, because it is nostalgic, because it is historical, because it assumes. all that stuff, is everyday, is what my body wades through and pushes against. i would rather attempt to establish a specific and temporary lexicon of the future-present. to do this, there has to be level ground.

at the moment, my work, is about trying to establish this level ground; whether it is a momentary fantasy or a true dismantling of hierarchy. could this be called

intimacy?

a critical space. a fantasy space. a utopian space. a place for sensation and movement.

agency, self-awareness, criticality, movement (dance is so important whether or not there is dancing going on)

how can we have a conversation without limiting ourselves with description? i would like to have a discussion that is a series of questions, where no-one can make statements but can only respond with another question.

where no-one proclaims their ability to offer an answer

where the question first posed is allowed to be refined to the point of answering itself, revealing another question right behind it.

and maybe then, we can talk.

****

i am trying to resist what i feel is the ask for me to present my position – to explain my work, to share my experiences, to describe what it is that i do, to justify my presence in certain spaces. i would like only to do my work, not to refer to it.

what i do is try to resist systems of oppression that i have no real hope of ever existing without.

i try to articulate myself beyond and inbetween those systems.

i try to recognise my desire/s and follow them.

neoliberal capitalism asks me to be an individual, to describe my edges and continually improve what’s inside them. i remember a friend, a guy i thought was cool in the year above me in dance school, we started hanging out, getting drunk, i’d watch him take drugs, we’d climb out the window above his sink onto the tiny rooftop space above the flat below and watch the sun come up. one time, he asked me, demanded that i end this stupid game and tell him whether i was a lesbian or bisexual. i told him that i was neither and he was adamant that i was being difficult, fucking with him, he became aggressive. how about there is no fucking either or. sometimes, i wince at the limitations of this language (and i only have one) that is my mother tongue and slaver and my means of expression simultaneously.

 

how then can i refer to you?

 

all my life i have felt like an animal that people have been trying to capture and place in a cage. to an extent, silence and invisibility are how i survive, on my own terms.

 

porno cat

 

so what happens if what i do is make shows where my body becomes public beyond the everyday? what happens if i want people to see those shows? what happens when i choose to make my body more visible?

what happens when i make an exhibition of myself? how do i not end up climbing into a cage of my own making? do i give in to any one of my multiple and oppressed identities?

is my presence implicitly a demand for visibility? does it aspire towards this?

what does visibility look like, does it look like anything other than money in an unusual place? or, a repetition, a continual re-affirmation of something?

visibility is a lie. an unfulfillable promise.

i do not believe that i will see myself anywhere else but when i look down. and that will always be only part of the picture.

my task for this text to avoid saying anything in particular

but not because i have nothing to say

making the other choice, to remember that it is there.

in this quest for visibility, where do we end up? exposed? read by many on another man’s terms? growing too big for small things, too clear for inbetween things, becoming mainstream.

talking about why i might sometimes be naked in my work, to someone who dismissed the idea of nudity in performance as being a display of pseudo-embodiment, a bullshit egotistical narrative of privilege. i said something about my nakedness removing the question of what is beneath my clothes. making me less solid, unremarkable and invisible in my corporeality – because who really sees you? when there is no more space for projecting your imagination and fantasies onto the outline of another, do you see anything? nudity in performance as invisibility. this invisibility as a privilege. but i will take them where i can get them.

 

how can my being in the world fulfill the propositions in my work?

no competition

no fixed hierarchies

no final statements

no good dancing

no ideals

no answers

no beginning

multiple simultaneous out of control narratives

 

until we value silence (because things are still being said) as much as loudness and consider the value of invisibility (because nothing is completely invisible and all things affect something else) we can’t move beyond the pressures of neoliberal capitalist imperialism.

(who is this we)

 

i feel as though i have a responsibility to SPEAK as a black woman. to put my voice where thousands could not be heard, would not be heard, were silenced. i feel as though i have a responsibility, a duty, to bring my voice and my RAGE, to summon it up to the back of my throat and spit it out at your feet, on your lap, in your hair, to let you know, that i hate you and to perpetuate your guilt, to let you know that you damaged me and to perpetuate your strength.

i cough up a fur ball and no-one knows what to do next

***

i should remind myself:

i have a responsibility only to myself. and in being true to myself, i cannot deny any body else. in being true to myself, i speak with the voices of many and of none. i am a vessel. i am a construct.

i should remind myself:

my rage is not a novelty nor is it a shock. it is justifiable, understandable, rational even. handling it, managing it, is a question of survival and not entertainment. it can take all sorts of forms. and its silent invisible presence is always tangible, to me.

 

love,

Last Yearz Interesting Negro

June 2015

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