I began this project by looking at Black performance in museums. Museums navigate complicated relationships to communities because of their long histories with race, class and gender representation. We see this in their architecture, curatorial practice, staff diversity and historical collections. As a Black woman theatre practitioner currently looking at the lineages of museums from the colonial era to the present, I am interested in the tensions of the museum as a site for Black political performance. As I spoke with the artists who are a part of this series, I began to think more about the legacy of the museum in relationship to the gentrified street, the university, and really any number of other spaces that are not so hospitable to Black bodies, thought and invention. They too are implicated in the fight for Black lives and cultural equity. These artists asked me to think of the museum and its kinfolk cultural spaces (the gallery, the lecture hall, the theatre, etc) as sites with infinite possibilities for cultural and socio-economic critique as well as the production of new cultural knowledge. Thus, this series investigates not only Black performance in museums, but also the ways in which Black performance in public, non-traditional performance spaces, shifts the dominant discourses of the communities in which we live. How can our daring to be visible and loud in public performance challenge hegemonic structures functioning against Black people in the United States?
Loud.Black.Resident is a series of conversations with three Black persons whose work as performing artists, scholars and curators is rooted in both in their engagement with Black performance, non-traditional performance spaces and their audacity to present their work loudly and visibly in public amongst gentrification, disenfranchisement and Black displacement. The featured artists in this conversation series, Dr. Omi Osun Joni L Jones, Marcus White and Amara Tabor Smith, took this conversation in, through, and out of the museum and into the streets and other spaces of significant Black performance intervention.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Arielle Julia Brown is a Black woman theatre artist, performance curator and cultural producer. Arielle is a current Public Humanities M.A. candidate at Brown University and a Graduate Fellow with the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. Learn more about her work here.