A Practice Centered Around Making

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Fetish woman, Accra. (= a priestess of the traditional religions),  Accra, 1890s. The National Archives UK [OGL (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/1/)]

Fetish woman, Accra. (= a priestess of the traditional religions), Accra, 1890s. The National Archives UK [OGL (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/1/)]

I would imagine, that when one thinks about an independent scholar of contemporary art, writer, and curator, you’re unlikely to think she is also a healer. The converse may be true. Fact is, I am both, however, why and how is the lynchpin to understanding my practice.

I see art and healing as the flip sides of the same coin. Both are practices that center making. It is the exertion of energy into the making of a thing, that can then be used and experienced by the intended parties in a way that is, or at least should be, additive and generative. As a healer I create holistic, integrated solutions for my clients that observe and engage with them in their entirety (spiritually, physically, and mentally/emotionally) in their contemporary state. I achieve this through intense divination, and often the creation of objects with various life spans that I work according to the pacts and agreements of my particular branch and community of Palo Mayombe.

On the art side, I unify and leverage my writing and research skills to create texts that contextualize contemporary artists within and betwixt the canons or cultural movements they occupy (or are confronting). These texts put artists in conversation with their contemporaries and their forebears. In this way, they are visible not just in a temporary exhibition but in the historical record that is documenting the art and related ideas of our time. When making an exhibition, I seek a balance of aesthetic prowess and intellectual rigor that highlights, the artist’s meaning and the over all intended narrative. One of my goals is always accessibility. Non-negotiable is an installation that allows the work to reveal the breadth of its beauty and meaning.

Personally, I believe art can be healing for the mind, body, and soul. Here, I speak of art in the writ large sense: visual, theater, music, dance, literary. I am driven to work with and for artists because I believe in it as a strategy for resolving some of humanity’s most common issues. Conversely, spirituality (not religion, to be clear) particularly when understood as technology, should include art as one its myriad strategies for reestablishing harmony and pursuing liberation. There are myriad examples of arts with healing capabilities. Fundamentally, we must choose that, which is medicine for our body, minds, and soul.

In 2019, I am asking myself - and maybe you too - some fundamental questions where art and healing are concerned:

  • Does it bring joy and succor?

  • Is it additive and/or generative?

  • Does it center freedom and autonomy of my body, as well as the mind and spirit?

  • Does it help me support myself and my community?

  • Does it offer a vision for a world where I can see people like myself living in peace and able to support ourselves without inordinate struggle?

  • Food or medicine? And if it’s food, is it nourishing or simply filler?

  • Do we know how to work the things we have to achieve the ends that we want?

  • What sacrifice am I/are we willing to make and am I/are we willing to deal with the related consequences of said sacrifice?

Happy holidays, however you choose to celebrate. Wishing you the 2019 you are willing to work for. We’re on winter break, but back on the blog Thursday, January 10, 2019.

Until then.

Negarra A. Kudumu

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