“In this work, McNeilly creates a series of actions of encounter with Middle Passage memory, the colonial archive and the question of reparation of social injury. Working in silence, drawing on hybrid iconographies from Yorùbá, Vodou, Underground Railroad, Jonkonnu and ship’s inventories, she creates a meditation on loss and disorientation, assembling and destroying, creation and endurance.”
– Honor Ford-Smith
In my research developing this work, two distinct traits of Black diasporic life emerged and called my attention – melancholy and bewilderment. I propose there is an antidote, and the prescription is to mourn and memorialize the Middle Passage; our African ancestors whose bones lie at the bottom of the sea. It is my hope that this work offers Black folks a space to practice acts of mourning and memorialization to honour those who did not have proper burial and to acknowledge this history of genocide – the African holocaust, the Maafa. In doing so, I believe we will release ourselves from this perpetual state of melancholy and bewilderment.
In this interdisciplinary solo work the optics revolve around a path of bones, a crossing, a rising house, a falling ancestor, and a burial ground. I bring clown, movement, mask, audio, video, voice, encaustic mixed media assemblage and installation into the mix, dwelling in the liminal space between art and ritual, between the mythic and the mundane, and reflect on indecipherability and fragmentation, reclamation and freedom.
Photos by Alvis Choi, Vero Diaz, and Anique J. Jordan, 2014-2015, and Mosa McNeilly, 2013-2015.