Holding Hands with Yemayá | Performance Installation | Crossroads Gallery | 2014 With Sapelo | Mixed Media Assemblage | 120″ x 60″ | 1995 | Photographed by Vero Diaz
“How is a sacred interior cultivated, and how does it assist practitioners in the task of making themselves intelligible to themselves?”
– M. Jacqui Alexander
This solo performance is a meditation on the embodied experience of sacred accompaniment. Contemplating the materiality of Middle Passage memory, and exploring the erotic poetics of grief, I interact with stones representing bones, and the assemblage representing the Orisá in a ritual of memorialization. I inquire, “Can we make of the heart a portal through which the Divine may inhabit the body? Can we make rituals of walking this path of bones, of beholding Yemayá at the crossroads, where water meets earth? Can we, in revisiting this site of dismemberment, open the way for re-memberment?”
Profoundly affected by M. Jacqui Alexander’s epic masterwork, Pedagogies of Crossing, I reflect on the epochs of origin, migration, and diasporic location as temporally simultaneous; on notions of self, community and Ancestor as interchangeable; and on concepts of the Sacred, the erotic and the political as intertwined. Deeply impacted by M. NourbeSe Philip’s poetic opus, Zong!, I inquire, how does ritualized arts practice speak to historical trauma? What medicine does this particular interdisciplinary practice of visual art, installation and performance carry into the future?
From the amniotic brine of the sea, Yemayá carries forth the ever-reverberating voices and disintegrating bones of our Ancestors. She brings this archive to the surface, to the shore, to today. A member of the pantheon of sacred forces who accompanied us during the numberless crossings, Yemayá accompanies us still. She brings to consciousness, all harrowing and ecstatic textures of that passage, she hollers centuries of sorrow and rage into churning tides, and chants exhumed narratives into the present.
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