Performances: The Ancestor and The Archive with Wura-Natasha Ogunji and guests

Performances: The Ancestor and The Archive with Wura-Natasha Ogunji and guests.
Thu Jan 20, 2011

The Ancestor and The Archive’ will open with 7 short performances (4-8 minutes) by artists Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Amanda Johnston, Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Annelize Machado, Matt Richardson, kt shorb and Nicole Vlado. Following the performances, a lively discussion will explore the ways in which these artists create, re-create and shift cosmologies, making experimental works that embody the traditional and non-traditional alike. The conversation will also address how these artists have developed creative practices with deep attention to personal and collective histories and ancestral legacies (both personal and artistic). In doing such, their work forms part of an important and fresh artistic archive.

Amanda Johnston is a Cave Canem fellow and Affrilachian poet. Honors include 2003 and 2004 Artist Enrichment grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the 2005 Austin International Poetry Festival’s Christina Sergeyevna Award. Johnston has served on the board of directors for the National Women’s Alliance and is currently an ensemble member of The Austin Project Performance Company (TAPPCo). She is the founder of Torch Literary Arts and editor of TORCH: poetry, prose, and short stories by African American Women.

Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Ph.D is an artist/scholar whose most recent explorations in theatrical jazz include the role of Gurl in blood pudding at Summerstages 2010 in NYC, and a collaborative ethnography on jazz aesthetics and Yoruba cosmology in theatre, Jazz, Ase, and The Power of the Present Moment. She is the Director of The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and Associate Professor of Performance Studies in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the founder of the Austin Project—a collaboration of women of color artists, scholars, and activists who use art for re-imagining society. Their work is documented in her co-edited volume, Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic (UT Press 2010).

Annelize Machado is a dance artist, performer and teacher. She has been in the practice of dance making for over ten years. Her work continues to be an exploration of a personal story, identity and memory/shared history. She experiments with audio and visual layers. As an artist in Minnesota she has worked with Diaspora Flow, Pangea World Theater, and Aniccha Arts. She is a Kalaripayat practitioner and began her training in 2006 with Guru Shaji K. John. She was ALLGO’s 2010 Artist-in-Residence. She studies Bharata Natyam under her Guru Anuradha Naimpally. She sees dance as a powerful expression for those of us who have been moved or who travel in search of home, to discover what stories our bodies carry.

Matt Richardson is a writer, scholar, and performer. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. He has published articles in Sexuality Research and Social Policy and The Journal of Women’s History, as well as works of fiction in publications including Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry and Queer Codex. Matt has been performing around the country since 1991. Recently, he was a co-founder of Nappy Grooves, a Black drag/gender performance troupe based in Oakland, California from 2003-2006 and an artist-in-residence at MIT in 2007. In addition to performing in various venues in Austin, he has co-directed two plays locally: The Walls Are Alive (with the sound of) with Jen Margulies in 2008 and The Majestic with Ana Lara in 2009.

kt shorb is a director, performer, writer and founder of the Generic Ensemble Company. She has trained in Suzuki Actor Training and Viewpoints with the SITI Company and Zen Zen Zo. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College Conservatory and a Master’s Degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She was a founding member of Stamp Lab, winner of the 2008 ArtSpark Festival and the 2009 FronteraFest Short Fringe “Best of Fest.” She recently premiered her solo show, Una Corda, directed by Yvan Greenberg of Laboratory Theater (Brooklyn). Acting credits include: “Count Thurzo,” in Vampyress (ethos/Voretex Repertory), “Flash Gorgeous” in The Majestic, “Nina” in T.A.G., “Claude/Ventriloquist” in HUSH, and “Reverend” in Why Koreans Don’t Hug. Directing credits include: Stuck on Gee-Dot, and by a quiet sea. shorb has been invited to present her work on multiple college campuses, including Oberlin College, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the University of Texas at Austin. She is a lecturer in Theatre and Feminist Studies at Southwestern University.

Nicole Vlado creates prints, sculpture, and performance to explore the relationship of the body to the built environment. Her work has been exhibited at Anja Hitzenberger’s Changing Room and Medialia Gallery in New York City, as well as in Austin TX, Cambridge MA, and Tijuana, Mexico. Her twenty-four hour performance entitled ‘dive: how to make one many’ was the premiere performance of the 2412 series. She currently lives and works in New York, NY.

This evening of performances and discussion takes place in conjunction with the exhibit The epic crossings of an Ife head, which features paintings and videos based on performances by the artist. Ogunji uses physical actions of the body to explore her connections to place, land, history and memory. Ogunji’s most recent video works portray the journey of a Nigerian Ife head artifact who longs for her descendents in the Americas. Ogunji paints her face to suggest the striations of this artifact and then makes the difficult attempt to fly across the land in search of history and a future. Her stop-motion animation techniques give the viewer a sense of strained movement and flight. Ogunji’s large-scale paintings speak of a similar journey between physical and spiritual planes as white charcoal and graphite masks hover over painted figures moving through sea and sky.