Tell me about your vision for States of Flux: ZIM to DET. What are you exploring?
In my current work, I’m exploring insomnia as a permanent state of socio-political consciousness. I come from Harare the capital of Zimbabwe and ‘Haarare’ from which harare is derived, is a Shona word meaning “the one who does not sleep.” This was the name of Neharahwa, a famous warrior chief form the area who resisted the British in the period around 1890. He was known as being awake and ready to fight, even at night. My work uses sound sculpture, voice, and movement to explore this type of insomnia.
Your creative practice centers music, ritual, and performance that speaks to the cultural identities of both Detroit and Zimbabwe. Talk to me about the similarities between those two groups. In your experience, where are the points of convergence? Where are the points of divergence? Where is there tension? Where is there ease?
Detroit is less populated, Harare is the opposite. Both cities underwent economic demise and this created and identity and culture for the people. Isolation and suffering are negative things but, if engaged with well, they produce a character and identity that is unique and inspirational. All the heroes and the people we love and admire have some story of resilience and triumph in their back pockets. We love them because they have been through the fire and they came out as gold. The two cities share that aspect. Both cities share an artform called “Jit.” In Detroit it’s a dance in Harare its a music genre with aspects of dance. It’s a mystery how this developed at almost the same time in different cities.
I understand that you’re working closely with MOCAD and ZCCD to conceive a performance that affirms the connections between Detroit and Zimbabwe, highlighting the throughways in shared cultural traditions. Tell me more about that collaborative process.
The cities both share histories of using their cultures to engage with repressive system. I’ve been collaborating with Detroit artists for over ten years. My last collaboration was a dance, Mbende/Jerusarema. This is a movement piece with Hardcore Detroit, a dance company from Detroit that specializes in a dance form called ‘Detroit Jit’. This dance invented in Detroit in the late 70’s in the African American communities. I was exploring the intersections between Detroit Jit (the dance) and Mbende Jerusarema (a dance of resistance from Zimbabwe).
Do you experience friction when creating new work that uses cultural tradition as a launch pad?
Not necessarily, but I do think a lot about appropriation and who can and who not cannot use what. In my experience, collaborations sometimes creates common areas where tension sometimes resolve themselves.
Why are you so passionate about the connections between Detroit and Zimbabwe? In your view, why is it important for others to consider?
I call these places home in some way because I’ve made precious memories in them. For me, it’s important to explore these spaces in my work with the hope of understanding them more and adding value in some ways through my practice.
What do you hope your audience members will think about or feel long after they watch the video of your States of Flux performance?
I hope to share with the audience sounds, feelings, and images that exists in between these two spaces.
States of Flux: ZIM to DET, an evening of performance-based work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), takes place on Thursday, December 5th at 7 pm.