Flag Sewing Ceremony
2017 / performance
The artist enters a public space unannounced carrying a suitcase. She opens it and pulls out a small bag on which the word NEGRA is written, a banana, and a flag. She sits on the flag and pulls out an old faded petticoat. While watching the 1964 Super Bowl she begins to sew braided weaving hair into the seams of the petticoat. She continues until the game is finished, backs her belongings and leaves.
Photography by Jim Winters
I Will Not Say Nigger
2017 / performance
The artist begins the performance before audiences enter the space; she is writing the words 'i will not say nigger' on a large sheet of brown paper that has been nailed to a wall and is covered in charcoal, referencing a chalkboard. She is conservatively dressed. She continues to write while audiences file in, mingle, engage with other works, and seat themselves. Several other performances take place and she continues to write. When her time to perform arrives, she begins to speak.
She begins her monologue by asking audience and herself who the word 'nigger' belongs to, who has the right to use it. She wonders who exactly is a nigger. She concludes that she is a nigger and begins to remove her Eurocentric makeup, jewelry, and dress. She stands in her bra and panties before the audience, revealing her natural braided hair and dark skin color, and speaks in open confession on the reasons that her 'light skin is not right skin'. She redresses into an outfit stereotypical of a Black female. She packs her white identity into a suitcase and returns to writing lines until her chalkboard is filled.
I Will Not Say Nigger explores the language and exchanges that take place between dominant and minority cultures/races, but often go unaddressed. The unspoken is present in relationships, the workplace, and other social encounters. They are subtle, difficult to define, and are often brushed under the rug, yet reveal that we are far from the post-racial society that so many insist exists. The character that you in see this piece explores the spectrum of these experiences through her mixed-race identity and shares them in through a spoken and physical confession.
The Black female experience is heavily dominated by the need to navigate the spaces within and between dominant cultures. Many Black and Brown females are too familiar others monitoring their behavior, language, and appearance, and have to choose where and how they will relate to dominant standards. Despite their double-consciousness, they are still situated as ‘other’ within society. These experiences define their identities and sense of self.
Photography and video shot by Amy Olivia Pierce, edited by Eleanor Kipping, audio recorded live at the University of Maine Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center Copyright ® 2017 ELEANOR KIPPING
Email Eleanor@eleanorkipping.com for more information or to view full performance.
I Hate it Here
2017 / performative self-portraits
Experimental self-portraits probing the dichotomy of discomfort and safety found in rural society and a natural environment.