Living Past (Re)memory (2011 - remounted for the ice in 2013)

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."

From London Baartman was taken to Paris where she was spotted by Georges Cuvier, a prominent French scientist. Claiming she was much too valuable of a "specimen" to be paraded around in side shows, he brought her to his lab to study and conduct various experiments on her. A few weeks after arriving at his lab, she passed away, she was in her mid-twenties. Cuvier made a plaster cast of her body, performed an autopsy and dissected her genitalia-displaying them in pickling jars and the Musee de l'Homme in Paris. It was not until May 2002 that her body was returned to South African for a proper burial.

One of the most tragic elements of Saartjie's saga was how her humanity was denied how, in the eyes of many of the Europeans that paid money to see her, she was not a feeling, complex, thoughtful, and whole human being. Instead, she was, as Barbara Chase Riboud articulates, "...a thing "that-should-never-have-been-born, a creature made in Eve's image, yet, unlike her, not part of mankind. [Saartjie] was a female who was the missing link between beast and man, a wonder of nature created only for the delectation of discovery by hordes of Parisian customers, who for three francs could, from a distance, contemplate the form and color of monstrosity."

Playing with the tension between stoic observers in the performance space and the pain expressed by the soloist and soundscape artist, the solo takes place in a small space to highlight the restricted spaces individuals such as Saartjie were allowed to inhabit in western civilization.

Artistic Consultants: Lela Aisha Jones and Rohene Ward (on ice version)
Lighting Design: Holly Anderson (on ice version) Joseph Glodek (stage version)
Text: Beloved, Toni Morrison
Voiceover Artists: Lela Aisha Jones, Deneane Richburg
Movement Artists: Lela Aisha Jones, Deneane Richburg, Shaness Kemp (stage version)
Music: "No More Running," Rachel Portman, "Love Your Heart," Oumou Sangare
Soundscape Artist: Alex B. Shaw
Costumes: Peggy Runde Weston

Brownbody

Photographer: Richard Fleischman
Artistic Work: Living Past (Re)memory
Movement Artist: Lela Aisha Jones and Deneane Richburg

Brownbody

Photographer: Richard Fleischman
Artistic Work: Living Past (Re)memory
Movement Artist: Deneane Richburg

Brownbody

Photographer: Richard Fleischman
Artistic Work: Living Past (Re)memory
Movement Artist: Lela Aisha Jones and Deneane Richburg

Brownbody

Photographer: Richard Fleischman
Artistic Work: Living Past (Re)memory
Movement Artist: Lela Aisha Jones and Deneane Richburg