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IMPRESSIONS: Kayla Farrish/Decent Structures' "The New Frontier: my dear America (pt. 1)" at Danspace Project

IMPRESSIONS: Kayla Farrish/Decent Structures' "The New Frontier: my dear America (pt. 1)" at Danspace Project
Dot Armstrong

By Dot Armstrong
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Published on November 13, 2019

Performers: Emilee Harney, Dorchel Haqq, Kerime Konur, Kar’mel Small, Mikaila Ware

Lighting Designer: Carol Mullins // Opening Monologue Text: Nik Owens

Additional Text: Mikaila Ware, Kayla Farrish, Kerime Konur, Audre Lorde, and James Baldwin Costume Collaboration and Design: Athena Kokoronis

The New Frontier Film

Collaborators and Crew: Alexander Diaz, Dominica Greene, Kayla Farrish, Kerime Konur, Rebecca Margolick


A note from the author:

After viewing The New Frontier: my dear America (pt. 1), I decided to respond not with a review of the show but with a poetic archive. Reviewing felt passive; poetry, to me, feels active and alive. I wanted to reflect and riff on the work. The following is my effort to describe, feel, and paraphrase what I witnessed in Farrish’s work.

Kayla Farrish/Decent Structures Arts, The New Frontier (my dear America) Pt. 1, 2019, Danspace Project. Photo: Ian Douglas / courtesy Danspace Project

Prologue

Strive towards something. What could become of the ships, the blood, the plantations? In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Lesson learned and re-learned and lashed into the backs of brown folks. So, here it is, the present: in which truth is spoken to power...

I: With grit From, Grace

Bodies in transit, translating trauma

Towards reparation, resilience, revisionist history

 

A flag on television

 

Dystopian domesticity: earth tones, loose fabric, natural hair

As thrown against society’s architecture

here are the power structures, as seen in high contrast (BLACK/WHITE)

 

A body dragged across white sand

Kayla Farrish/Decent Structures Arts, The New Frontier (my dear America) Pt. 1, 2019, Danspace Project. Photo: Ian Douglas / courtesy Danspace Project

These women look tired

washed up on the shore of somewhere, on tenuous terrain

These women seek stability, stumbling against unseen obstacles

I wish I knew how/it would feel to be free

Navigating a new landscape, heavy with time, these women

shuffle and pull at invisible tethers

 

Sand-colored fabric

 

She morphs and shape-shifts, flexing and collapsing, grooving, softening

She moves at warp speed, macho to delicate. She lets out a yell.

She is a chest-pounding, gyrating whirlwind

She grinds them up, spits them out, embellishes herself with them

They possess her, control her, transform her. 

 

Gold fabric

Kayla Farrish/Decent Structures Arts, The New Frontier (my dear America) Pt. 1, 2019, Danspace Project. Photo: Ian Douglas / courtesy Danspace Project.

Video Hunnys

hold up hey you hold on who you callin cat-callin what did you what did you just what do you want what do you want from me i want i want my body back dat booty my body body-ody-ody for me do it for me give it back get me get at me all mine back get back go off get off me

GET OFF ME

 

Swatch of tan fabric billowing. In the desert

 

Kayla Farrish/Decent Structures Arts, The New Frontier (my dear America) Pt. 1, 2019, Danspace Project. Photo: Ian Douglas / courtesy Danspace Project

II: Black Bodies Sonata

Darlin, love is a bullet wound

not Cupid’s arrow but cop-shot

Two of us dancing close and slow, baby, you’re about to pass out, bleeding

through your clothes onto my clothes (metaphorically, though, are you? Please be serious)

See these ballroom frames melting into pietas. One moment, we’re waltzing; blink, and we’re holding hands far away, shouting for the police officer not to fire that gun. (Too late, too?)

On the ground, not by choice. Hands: let me see them.

How could you be so heavy, honey, heart and head and hands: let me see them.

Kayla Farrish/Decent Structures Arts, The New Frontier (my dear America) Pt. 1, 2019, Danspace Project. Photo: Ian Douglas / courtesy Danspace Project

Whose turn is it to hold or be held? Hang yourself on my arm and I’ll

remember the folds in your clothes as you fell

Covered in gold I will cover you in gold

shroud (glory hallelujah)

 

The future. A flag, the middle distance

Kayla Farrish/Decent Structures Arts, The New Frontier (my dear America) Pt. 1, 2019, Danspace Project. Photo: Ian Douglas / courtesy Danspace Project

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