Yellow Fish Durational Performance Art Festival V Proposal


This proposal is for the 2018 Yellow Fish Durational Performance Art Festival V. The following is a description and documentation of the project in its first iteration in 2017. I would like to perform this piece at the Yellow Fish Festival.

Original Performance Documentation and Description (Past Project Information)

Title: I Will Not Say Nigger, Spring 2017, durational spoken word performance

Duration: 2 hours

Dates: Spring 2017

Location: Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center

Artist: Written and performed by Eleanor Kipping

Presenter / Producer: NA

Performance Description:

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.

Project Proposal

Title: I Will Not Say Nigger, Spring 2017, durational spoken word performance

Performance Description

In performing and presenting this piece, I am interested in several things. First is location and space. Much of my work is informed by my experiences as a mixed-race female in a radically homogenous and predominantly white state. I am interested in taking this work out of the context of Maine, and rural communities and exploring the work and its reception in new and different spaces. As for space, I would love the opportunity to explore this piece outside of a traditional theatrical setting. While this iteration is theatrical in nature, I believe that it could be presented in ways that are more 'accessible' to audiences and do not ask the audience to sit and view me but are able to engage with me in a non-linear fashion. This would allow me to explore my second interest – structure. In the documentation above, both the duration and audience to performer relationship was heavily informed by the space, the time, other performers. while I know that this is always going to be the case, I would like to see how this work may develop when those variables have changed drastically. For example, how might it change with different or additional spoken text, without a costume change, or with a huge chalkboard? These are questions that I have for future iterations of this piece. 

Desired length of time: several hours or more

Desire days/date: No preference as of now

Questions Desired: As mentioned above...How will a change in geography and audiences inform me and my creative practice? How might a change in duration inform the piece? Are costume changes necessary? Might taking up more space change the reading of the piece, and how so? Does this character have more to say? If so, what?

Important to repeat: The repetitive and public action of a character writing the words 'i will not say nigger' again and again on a wall for hours.

Lost: A potentially all-white audience and a traditional theatrical setting.

Gained: New discoveries, new growth, new material, new character development, new audiences, new feedback