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