Getting into As I Reside and Breathe at the SOMArts Cultural Middle in San Francisco is going for walks into a galaxy established totally by the hands of a Black girl. Not that I’m persuaded that the world that we inhibit could be orchestrated by any one else, but paying out a morning gazing around Angela Hennessy’s creations only expounded my inclinations.
As opposed to standard art spaces, Hennessy has painted the gallery walls all Black. An ode to quite a few things–its connection to white, the distress (and convenience) of darkness, the coloration of Black skin–but most interestingly a comment on neutrality. “The standard in the art planet is a default to white walls, as if those people partitions are neutral. As many of us have been conversing about for so lengthy, there is no neutrality,” she shared. And as we ongoing our discussion within just the place, that theme trapped with me. Very little is at any time truly neutral. And typically in our tries to do so, the distance is more so accentuated.
As Hennessy pointed out herself, “Black is a coloration that has quite a few levels of that means, and typically meanings that are even contradictory. Black can be the absence of shade, all hues merged. Some still say it is not a color at all. It is made use of as a time period of racial identification. In Western European cultures it is a main sign of grief or mourning. But Black can also be a comforting shade. Physiologically, it is much less stimulating on your eyes.” Virtually each and every function in As I Dwell and Breathe has a main element of Blackness, generating this dizzying impact as you enter the gallery space. Some will work pop in advance of your eyes, although others carefully vibrate against the wall.
If neutrality is a line, then its reverse nature is cyclical. Circles and orbits are central to the work. Inside Hennessy’s cosmos are parts that pull the gaze upwards, the way a capturing star catches your eye in the night sky. One work entitled Orbits 2 characteristics oblong and circular rings that appear to dance about every single other, like a portal getting ready to transportation you into a unique dimension. A further is a ball manufactured of artificial Black hair, sparse with sprigs of Hennessy’s possess tresses, which hangs from the ceiling. Enveloped with a golden ring of blonde loops, it is difficult to not make yet another galactic comparison to Saturn’s planetary rings.
No matter of the universe that Hennessy’s designed above you, every single 10 minutes Hennessy’s voice will convey you again to Earth, (a different cyclical ingredient.) An audio poem that Hennessy wrote to accompany the get the job done, its words and phrases implore us to believe about our existence on this world and the bodies that tether us here. “physique black, body brown, surrender to blue. A person breath, Then two…Then totally free, Sure free.” When the poem echoes across the gallery, the space takes on a heaviness. Like a weighted blanket laid more than you, it gently pushes you into the Earthly ground.
As I Reside and Breathe is a demonstrate that reminds me that when loss of life and grief has been a much more constant presence in our world the past several yrs, its overall look is not the reverse of existence, but somewhat an extension of it. “You testify via your living respiratory system. And as we’re below residing and breathing, there is so substantially vitality likely on. The lifeless go by. The stars go by. We’re not neutral witnesses. We’re contributors at the exact same time.” —Shaquille Heath