UBW Partnership Fellow | 2021
As the third artist in a three-year partnership with Urban Bush Women’s Choreographic Center Initiative, nia love will come to MANCC to further her serial, multi-media performance and site of study, g1(host), which marks her continuous engagement with the memory and “afterlives” of transatlantic slavery. An unfolding of the term “ghost”, this project pursues questions regarding love's own body's status within historical, geographical, and atmospheric limits, and pivots on this fundamental query: what remains of the Middle Passage as force, gesture, and effect?
Beginning in 2013 in a collaboration with female farmers and dancers in Tanzania titled S(oil), g1(host) has undergone several iterations. This starting point explored the cultivation of land and the intimacies between ecology and Black life, including a May 2016 performance at Snug Harbor, and an April 2017 staging at Theater for the New City, which initiated an engagement with scholar Christina Sharpe’s groundbreaking text, In The Wake: On Blackness and Being. Sharpe’s powerful notions of “wake work” as the necessary reckoning with the death worlds that structure Black life serve as a further impetus for this project. In this iteration, the re-telling of childhood stories and memories of love's late father propelled her to excavate her relationship to water and the histories it holds.
This investigation called for a more direct encounter with the ocean and the remnants of the Middle Passage. In June 2018, love acquired her deep-sea diving license and traveled to Tobago to do filmed free dives. These arduous descents recalled the experience of drowning slaves who were thrown or jumped overboard, while also pulling love into an oceanic realm that intensely disoriented her bodily instincts. A Gibney Dance-in-Process residency in June 2019 brought these ongoing concerns back to shore, where she began to expand this project from a solo performance to a group endeavor and hosted Christina Sharpe for creative dialogue.
This vast experiment with dance, deep-sea diving, video, music, and critical theory, has compelled love to work within disciplines seemingly far removed from the field of dance, and has called her off the stage and into new contexts. This expansion has transformed her approach to all processes of making work, forwarding collaboration as an essential principle of an ethical artistic practice. In the next phase of the project’s development, love looks forward to deepening her connections with critical theory scholars, natural scientists, composers, movement makers, filmmakers, and projection and set designers, to unfold new ways that their research, methodologies, and writings can manifest in the context of performance, some of which will happen at MANCC. love's collaborators include: Iquo Essien, Lela Aisha Jones, Jesse Phillips-Fein, and Veleda Roehl, embodied and co-bodied consultants/performers; Antoine Roney and Niokia Workman, musicians/composers; Orion Gordon, projection designer; Carolyn Mraz, set designer; and Mandy Ringger, lighting designer; Benin Ford, conceptual advisor; Christina Sharpe, advisor, black studies; Smitha Vishveshwara, advisor, quantum physics; Makeda Roney, social media manager/designer; Tara Sheena, project manager.
This partnership residency is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.