Byb Chanel Bibene and I collaborated on Skin Talk, Skin Mood. We showed the first incarnation, which included vocalist Jeff Bennett as a collaborator, at the Afro Solo Festival at the African American Cultural Art & Culture Complex in August 2012 and the Black Choreographer’s Festival at Dance Mission in February 2013. Byb as mentee along with Folawole as mentor received a CHIME residency for 2013. The first version of Skin Talk, Skin Mood told Byb’s story of learning American and European racism as an adult when he leaves Congo to begin touring with his dance company. In one of the vignettes in Skin Talk, Skin Mood Byb describes an experience in a bar in France where the bartender refused to serve him and no one in the bar would even meet his eye – “J’etais invisible!” he proclaims with astonishment and anger. This experience of invisibility is very familiar, very constant, very normal, but very complicated. It has been a weapon used against me, a weapon I’ve used against myself, a refuge I seek out reflexively, and many, many other things. Through this residency we have begun exploring this theme of invisibility. Below is a study. What does invisibility look like? Sound like? How does it move? Feel?
The text I read in this video is an adaptation of Henry Dumas’ short story Ark of Bones. The video is from a trip I took with Bandelion to Nancy Ostrovesky’s farm in upstate New York, images of trees from a cemetery in London, images of drift wood from the Lost Cost. This is an exploration of the connections between trees and bones and ancestors. The video was part of installation I created for Sheena Johnson’s show, Close & Personal, that took place at the Milk Bar on September 28, 29.