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Ikram Lakhdhar

Review originally published on DIRT.

In her quest to deconstruct the politics of female identity, curator Martina Dodd brings together seminal works by female artists, Lisa Hill, Tsedaye Makonnen, Iman PersonSamera Paz, and members of the àjé collective. Encompassing a large-scale soft sculpture installation, drawings, and performances, Bloodlines coalesce visceral material and ephemeral subjects to create intimate moments of awe and fury.

Per Dodd, the curatorial intention of Bloodlines is to “question the motives behind why and how women consciously and/or unconsciously police their bodies, actions, and language.” Bloodlines explores the power of a woman’s body with a performance piece that connects a woman’s menstrual cycle to the moon cycle. Through àjé: a cosmic performance meditation, Adé Oh shared how her menstrual or ‘Moonblood’ is deeply "rooted in the textured rhythms of Yòrúba mythoherstory, which informs the movements of her Black body,” said Dodd.

The àjé Collective (Image c/o Katelynn Dunn)

Bloodlines reminds us of the value of elevating femininity to its most essential function as a bearer of an ecosystem, a strong network of fluids that makes us all connected to the same reality. It is interesting that visitors of the show were asked to wear white shoe covers, metaphorically creating a collective awareness to protect a safe environment, sterilizing any micro-aggressions typically exercised when others are confronted with menstrual blood.

Makonnen (Image c/o Nate Jarvis)

The Crowning, an interactive performance piece orchestrated by Tsedaye Makonnen, called on the exhibit attendees to become active participants in a ritual ceremony to celebrate selfhood and instigate a sense of community. Makonnen created crowns that emulate the shape of pelvic bones to highlight the intense physicality of childbirth. Adorned with flowers, these crowns honor the deity of its beholder. Reciting excerpts from Audre Lorde’s 'Sister Outsider', she offered a sheltered space for participants to become witnesses of the crown bearing experience.

The Crowing, A Performance by Tseday Makonnen(Image c/o Transformer)

Lisa Hill’s Regeneration: 93 Days is an assertive installation that draws attention to the invisible webs of connection, from mother to child, by reviving skin and scar tissues on silky paper. In an interview with Dodd, she revealed that including Hill’s large scale install pushed her practice as a curator, which consequently rendered limits of Transfomer’s white wall space. Incidentally, works of such large scale and hyper-fragility inside an unforgiving exhibit space has its hindrance. Sometimes, the gallery must bear the cost of damage that happens while the act of install and de-install of the piece. This curatorial choice of exhibiting a raw work in a low maintenance environment holds a damage risk, yet provides a unique experience of wonder.

The Crowing, A Performance by Tseday Makonnen(Image c/o Transformer)

àjé: a cosmic performance meditation, featured an intense multi-sensorial experience that spawned strong emotions and visceral reactions within the attendees. Oh’s meticulous combination of video projection, dancing movements, soil gestures and live poetry recital activated the ‘hole-in-the-wall’ exhibit space of Transformer, showing once again the translucent magic that is created every time artists and curators are invited to convert the space’s physicality. During Cosmic Meditation, the two-dimensional works hanging on the wall seemed to become a part of the performance, elevated and suspended. Allowing the viewer to feel and experience them in a dreamy setting, sanctioning heightened imagination and interpretation of the forms and shapes, especially in both Paz’s and Hill’s works.

I asked Dodd on how Bloodlines  can have a political impact. Her answer was both eye-opening and inspiring;

Bloodlines will be on display at Transformer DC until June 24, 2017. 


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