Entering As I Dwell and Breathe at the SOMArts Cultural Centre in San Francisco is walking into a galaxy produced fully by the arms of a Black lady. Not that I’m confident that the earth that we inhibit could be orchestrated by any one else, but paying a early morning gazing around Angela Hennessy’s creations only expounded my inclinations.
Not like traditional art spaces, Hennessy has painted the gallery walls all Black. An ode to many things–its partnership to white, the pain (and comfort and ease) of darkness, the coloration of Black skin–but most interestingly a comment on neutrality. “The conventional in the artwork earth is a default to white walls, as if these partitions are neutral. As quite a few of us have been speaking about for so prolonged, there is no neutrality,” she shared. And as we continued our conversation in the area, that theme stuck with me. Almost nothing is at any time truly neutral. And frequently in our makes an attempt to do so, the length is additional so accentuated.
As Hennessy noted herself, “Black is a coloration that has a lot of layers of meaning, and normally meanings that are even contradictory. Black can be the absence of shade, all shades mixed. Some even now say it’s not a color at all. It is employed as a phrase of racial identification. In Western European cultures it is a most important sign of grief or mourning. But Black can also be a soothing color. Physiologically, it’s considerably less stimulating on your eyes.” Almost every single get the job done in As I Reside and Breathe has a significant component of Blackness, generating this dizzying impact as you enter the gallery house. Some operates pop ahead of your eyes, even though other folks carefully vibrate against the wall.
If neutrality is a line, then its opposite nature is cyclical. Circles and orbits are central to the work. Inside of Hennessy’s cosmos are pieces that pull the gaze upwards, the way a capturing star catches your eye in the evening sky. A single get the job done entitled Orbits 2 characteristics oblong and round rings that seem to dance about every other, like a portal preparing to transport you into a various dimension. A further is a ball manufactured of synthetic Black hair, sparse with sprigs of Hennessy’s possess tresses, which hangs from the ceiling. Enveloped with a golden ring of blonde loops, it’s hard to not make yet another galactic comparison to Saturn’s planetary rings.
No matter of the universe that Hennessy’s designed higher than you, every 10 minutes Hennessy’s voice will deliver you again to Earth, (one more cyclical aspect.) An audio poem that Hennessy wrote to accompany the get the job done, its text implore us to consider about our existence on this planet and the bodies that tether us listed here. “entire body black, entire body brown, surrender to blue. Just one breath, Then two…Then free, Indeed free.” When the poem echoes across the gallery, the home will take on a heaviness. Like a weighted blanket laid over you, it gently pushes you into the Earthly ground.
As I Are living and Breathe is a clearly show that reminds me that while dying and grief has been a additional consistent presence in our planet the previous few decades, its physical appearance is not the opposite of lifestyle, but instead an extension of it. “You testify by means of your living respiratory body. And as we’re in this article residing and respiratory, there’s so substantially strength heading on. The dead go by. The stars go by. We’re not impartial witnesses. We’re members at the similar time.” —Shaquille Heath