Works in Progress and works completed 2016-2017
I Will Not Say Nigger
2017 / performance
Full performance: 00:02:00
Spoken performance: 00:11:00
Email Eleanor@eleanorkipping.com for more information or to view full performance.
The artist begins the performance before audiences enter the space and is writing the words i will not say nigger on a large sheet of brown paper that has been covered in charcoal. She is dressed conservatively and is well put together. She begins her monologue by asking audience and herself who the word nigger belongs to, who has the right to use it, and who exactly is a nigger. She concludes that she is a nigger and begins to remove her eurocentric makeup and dress. She stands nude before the audience, revealing her natural hair, and skin color, and speaks in open confession on the reasons that her 'light skin is not right skin' and changes her entire outfit to that more stereotypical of a black female. She packs her white identity into a suitcase and returns to writing lines.
The black female experience is heavily dominated by the constant 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 dominate standards. Despite their double-consciousness, they are still situated as ‘other’ within society. These experiences define their identities and sense of self.
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.
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
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