Opening Essay researchfellowship

If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution. 30-03-2022

Kalā in Hindi means ‘’art’’. Kālā means darkness. And it is in this close proximity of slightly differing phonetics where my contemplations and questions around art and politics are situated.

In her essay ‘’Poetry is not a Luxury’’ Audre Lorde refers to darkness as a space of possibility within ourselves. I quote: ‘’These places of possibility within ourselves are dark, because they are ancient and hidden: they have survived and grown strong through that darkness. Within these deep places, each one of us holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling. The woman’s place of power within each of us is neither white nor surface: it is dark, it is ancient and it is deep.’’

I think that the act of recording unrecorded feelings hidden in these dark wells, and bringing them to the surface in the form of poetics and tangible action might propose a different quality of light and vision. A transformative kind of light, perhaps, like the sun. Referring to the way how invisible UV light penetrates the skin and activates actual processes. From ancient source to ancient source.

In ‘’Situated knowledges’’ Haraway poses the following questions: How to see? Where to see from? What limits to vision? What to see for? Whom to see with? Who gets to have more than one point of view? Who gets blinded? Who wears blinders? Who interprets the visual field? What other sensory powers do we wish to cultivate besides vision? I think these are important questions to ask and they are definitely prominent questions in my own work as a performance artist and community builder, mainly operating in the context of the Netherlands. And my biggest friction between living life and practising art in this context is the ways how we have been conditioned to see. It is what Rolando Vasquez describes as a modern gaze. I guess it was this intuitive understanding which made me connect more to subcultures that originated in the clubs. Social dances and lifestyles like Housedance, Waacking and Ballroom. The world of cyphers, jams and functions. These dark spaces were my antidote in a world where we are conditioned to fear the dark and instead are blinded by light and so-called western notions of enlightenment. It is in the dark where I learned my biggest lessons regarding the sensing body in movement, the notion of extended families and kinship and the politics of sharing space.

I’m torn between hopes for a future for contemporary art which has undone itself from its modernist gaze, wishing for osteoporosis in these ossified structures because of the wrath of ancient wrecking balls. Simultaneously, I care less and I just want to see alternative spaces and artistry flourish and take over. I question what it means to reclaim myself in front of people who perceive my gesture as temporary entertainment. I question what it means to reclaim myself in bubbles where I am already celebrated

What is this fine border between the right to opacity and when do things become too opaque?

A nepantlera wandering in my geography of selves. The inner child plays peek-a-boo with the trickster through the cracks of my inner borders. My ancestors swim in the deep waters of my subconscious rivers. Desires of descendants are buried in my soil. I encounter bodies outside of myselves, our tectonic plates assemble like big chunks of alluvium shapeshifting shores. A new geography emerges where borders are craving to connect. What is the future of the notions of community and worldview?