Acziun is thrilled to welcome for residency New York based artist mayfield brooks.
Through the month of October, mayfield will research towards their new stage work becoming another iteration in a series of works stemming from their nominated for Bessie Awards movie Whale Fall. During her monthly stay in Susch artist will be joined also for a final week by a filmmaker.
At the residency I plan to expand my research into decomposition as a generative and embodied process that can expose the destabilizing societal practices of human excess, industrial contamination and anti-blackness. I am working on a series of choreographic provocations engaging with the process of compost and the phenomenon of the whale fall—a whale’s decomposition process when it dies and falls to the ocean floor while feeding thousands of sea creatures in its wake. My research will investigate decomposition as ancestral and earth healing.
For me, the whale fall becomes the dance, the space of grief and regeneration, the lamentation, the ecstasy, the song and the sonic release. It is a desire to sit with grief and rage in a world that discards too much, consumes too much, and pollutes too much. As a result, the bodies of whales and the bodies of Black folk seem to have a kinship in how they have both been hunted, consumed, disappeared and silenced since the transatlantic slave trade. Some slave ships were later used as whaling vessels.
Black death is a bulbous space of absence. It looms in the air of my consciousness like an invisible intruder. Black death haunts me, nips at my heels, and gives me night sweats. So, I look to the whale to teach me how to live and die. I look to the whale to teach me how to breathe. I look to the whale to teach me how to sing, listen, echolocate, communicate, take care of matriarchal families, and enrich the oceans.
I hear the whales speaking to me. They tell me that they will teach me how to exist in the abyss. They tell me that they are familiar with absence because they live most of their lives in the depths of the ocean. They tell me that they will take me to the depths where their bodies fall after they die. I tell the whales that I cannot go to the depths because I won't be able to breathe there. The whales remind me that I can't breathe here on earth and that my ancestors sent them here to remind me of my impossible existence.
I come up for air. I am a whale falling into the abyss. I sense my body losing its human form and shedding its anxiety. I am absent. The artist is not present. I do not have to show up or do anything or be anybody for anyone. I disappear into a blackness that decays as it falls into nothingness. No one is trying to kill me because I am no more.
Whale fall with me to the bottom of the sea
mayfield brooks is a movement based performance artist, vocalist, urban farmer, writer, and wanderer based in Lenapehoking also known as Brooklyn, New York. They are the 2021 recipient of the Merce Cunningham Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, their dance film, Whale Fall, was nominated for a 2021 Bessie Award, and they are a 2022-23 Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. brooks is an international teacher and performer whose entire body of work arises from their life/art/movement practice, Improvising While Black.