Background photo credit:
Johanna AustinArt

WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING ABOUT BROWNBODY?

Brownbody’s artistic work is “…a fusion of modern dance and skating that […] weaves stories of alienation, history and triumph into a concert on the ice…”

-Minneapolis Star Tribune

BROWNBODY


Photo credit: Richard Fleischman
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Living Past (Re)memory (2011 – remounted for the ice in 2013)

Brownbody
Photographer: Johanna AustinArt
Artistic Work: Living Past (Re)memory
Movement Artist: Shaness Kemp and Lela Aisha Jones
Brownbody
Photographer: Johanna AustinArt
Artistic Work: Living Past (Re)memory
Movement Artist: Lela Aisha Jones
Brownbody
Photographer: Johanna AustinArt
Artistic Work: Living Past (Re)memory
Movement Artist: Shaness Kemp
Brownbody
Photographer: Johanna AustinArt
Artistic Work: Living Past (Re)memory
Movement Artist: Shaness Kemp and Lela Aisha Jones
Brownbody
Photographer: Johanna AustinArt
Artistic Work: Living Past (Re)memory
Movement Artist: Shaness Kemp and Lela Aisha Jones
This worked has been performed both for the stage and on the ice and is based on the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison, which tells the story of Sethe. Having escaped Sweet Home, the Kentucky based plantation on which she was a slave and was tormented by Schoolteacher (the overseer) and his nephews, Sethe has relocated to 124 Bluestone Road, her mother in laws’ home outside of Cincinnati with her daughter, Denver. To keep her children safe from slavery, Sethe attempted to murder all four of them, succeeding in killing only the oldest daughter:

Simple. She just flew. Collected every bit of life she had made, all the parts of her that were precious and fine and beautiful, and carried, pushed, dragged them through the veil, out, away, over there where no one could hurt them. Over there. Outside this place, where they would be safe.” (Morrison, 1987)

The novel begins 18 years after these traumatic events; 124 Bluestone road is haunted by the baby ghost who is finally exorcised from the house by Paul D, another former Sweet Home plantation slave that has recently come to visit. One afternoon, Sethe, Denver, and Paul D discover an 18 year old woman sleeping in front of the house, who, by all appearences seems to be the physical manifestation of Sethe’s deceased daughter. As expressed by literary critic, Stephan Metcalf, this is a story of what Morrison terms “re-memory, a kind of psychic haunting in which the specifics of a traumatic incident are told and retold, even as the teller tries to block their full emergence into the conscious mind.”