“Precious in Da Wadah, A Portrait of a Geechee” was commissioned by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery as a part of the “Identify:Performance Art as Portraiture” series in which the museum is “pulling back the curtain of time to acknowledge those who are missing from the museum’s historical collections”.

My piece focused on the ingenuity that was brought with harvested bodies from Western Africa where rice cultivation had existed for centuries.  It was in that technology of the enslaved, not just the labor, that the colonial south saw rice cultivation reach global records thus making South Carolina the richest state in the south and the second richest in the Union and becoming a critical funding source of the American Revolution while being populated, conservatively, 90-95 % enslaved Africans.  As the performance rested on these facts, it worked to convert the body into the direct commodity while examining the process of cherish and violence that are essential to rice cultivation.

 

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HYPERALLERGIC

 

Photo Credit Paul Morigi 2016