Breathing Black; Or How We Heal is an interactive installation and digital storytelling project that will document the Black community’s connection to joy and healing. This piece will disrupt the ongoing cycle of trauma and provide space to remind Black people to breathe and reclaim a joy that already belongs to them. These past few months have weighed on me and so many people in my community and I began to crave a depiction/experience of Black resilience. So many of us have died, our last words being, “I can’t breathe.” And, unfortunately, many of us will continue to lose our breath. But here we are breathing. Very much alive. And my piece will ask, how do we remind ourselves and each other to breathe? And, more importantly, how can we ensure that as a community we keep breathing? I believe it is here, at the place where we commemorate our joy and reckon its crucial role in our collective freedom. Breathing Black will consist of two distinct phases. Over the next few months, in collaboration with two Black videographers/photographers I will conduct 25 carefully selected Baltimore community interviews and photo sessions centering on Black Joy. The following are examples of interview questions: How do you nurture your joy? How has your joy evolved throughout your life? When you hear the phrase Ancestral joy what comes to mind? Where do you see Black Joy at its peak? The interview/photo session will conclude with photos of the interviewee doing an activity that brings them joy. The process will culminate with a wall of photographs, edited interviews projected onto a screen and a short film, titled “Our Joy Revolution!” The interviews will be projected onto a screen and the photos will be printed and used for a photo wall. Phase II will be the performance at the site of the exhibit to include a symbolic breathing ritual led by a Black breath healer. The installation will be a Black utopian space to be experienced only by those who identify as Black or African America.
Funded by Baltimore, MD (December 2020)