L I V E S
interview SERIES on art X identitY X politics
"Last August, there were a lot of things heating up, and that came to a tipping point when Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson. I felt like I needed to say something, do something, react — It was tough to see those images and be speechless. How does one use their art to also talk to this? [Large sigh.] I wanted to make something that was compelling, that would talk, engage people, not just a quick one-liner but had some substance and endurance, and really keep talking about the killing.
So Garcia’s like, “How do you want to say this? You’ve got to say this,” I was like, “Yeah, you know, can I get a witness?” You know, “Who’s hearing me? Is there anybody fucking hearing me right now? Who knows? All these people are feeling what I’m feeling, or know my experience, or been profiled, or they’ve been stalked, or they’ve been harassed, or they’ve been shot at, it was a collective seeing.”"
Confluence, in the literal sense, is rivers coming together. Water coming together. We’re also just talking about everything coming together. Ideology. Genres. Music. People. When something flows into something else, there are no defined borders, it’s just flowing in. That’s why I was thinking about confluence, because it’s more of a fluid border, between water, people, cultures, identities, everything — that’s what I’m trying to build here. I’m not just playing notes, I want people to know that there’s a deeper understanding behind this.
As an artist, one of the biggest ideas is the idea of darkness — artistic darkness, aesthetic darkness. It drives so differently for so many people, but you know it when there’s a duende player or duende artist, you know? You just know it. You can’t define it, but you just know what it is. I would define it as artistic darkness that is brought about [pause] through longing.
"It's important to me that the audience experiences some version of gentleness in a show of mine simply because a lot of the stuff that we share with each other in this kind of show space tends to be very heavy and coming from places of pain. I try to hold that intention so that we can see each other with a little more realness.
There are so many artists who are making cultural work who think of that as, “This is the difference I am making in the world, amen.” But what other resources are you moving? How are you using your art to dream up this world while using that cultural power that you've got? For folks who are thinking of themselves as artists and who want to be making that world, yes, do it! Sit down and do that thing, AND also do your personal work with your art and do your community work. I think those things are most powerful when mixed together---and like spirits finding other people who are also interested in moving/using their power. That's where the magic stuff happens, you know?