Black Power/White Light 2010
Fist on wall
Baltimore to DC
“Identity” Polarity black and white
Chicago considered “most segregated city in the US”
I am looking at the environment
Falling into what I steer clear from
Get my hands dirty
On the line between discussion and having questions
Sometimes I don’t strike that balance and that is all part of the practice
Background in theatre
Theatre U Maryland
1960’s era black protest theatre aka DUTCHMAN
DUTCHMAN & the Slave by Leroy Jones
White seductress (Lula, sexual, intellectual, shred, knife and stab)
“Do you want this to happen to your children?”
Let’s stop traffic and make people think this
Through extremes people understand enormity
Stress physical frame to get emotional reaction
Complete approach to engage the body
16-‐year-‐old son-‐adjust-‐studio practice changed-‐what the could do in a small space on his own…
Produced video Inertia cycle
Marathon, Mule, Likes to control and craft w/video
Likes to manipulate Worked project in a “dangerous neighborhood”
Telephone pole encrusted in tin.
Chains on his back and pulling a big heavy pole made of metal.
Pulling weight on his back.
Going through boundaries and territories that he did not know about.
Physical change and challenging the divisions
Spinning-‐cycle and go nowhere.
Gerbil on a
Sometimes easier to be nice to people you don’t know
Pushing a car and folks joined in to help
Oppressive/Exciting: Post 1968 the Black Experience
Freedom riders dragged off lunch counter and
Why didn’t they fight back?
You can be heroic by being passive (not the mind)
Video divided screen-‐Black male on left, white male on right. The white man is slapping the black man in the face-‐on the cheek. You can see emotional reactions that keep shifting on the face
of the black man. The white man just steadily keeps hitting. Are they friends? Acting colleagues? Is it a stranger? What would happen if it were a stranger? 5 minutes of slapping. Visceral response.
-‐Two years worked on the video. He did not want the video to look weak. He did not want to have a beat down. Matt Rosenthal-‐-‐-‐He does not see identity work as a black thing. Working on whiteness. A lot of trust built.
-‐********Curator did not show that video piece. (aka controversial)
Space exploration, Afro futurism
Who is entitled to do the right stuff?
Escapist vision of trying to break away
Mass of people getting high
Saturday religion: Soul Train and Star Trek
Blend and blur.
1st interracial kiss on TV: Star Trek
Afro-‐Cosmonaut Alien, White noise
“Whiteys on the moon”-‐Gil Scott Heron
This work led to other work
Got Obama’s inauguration platform and built a time capsule
Telling slave to move at different paces
Turning practice inside out.
6 men and 6 rowing machines
Offers water resistance
DJ. 6 black men in ties and button down white shirts. Take their places
at the rowing machines in the middle of the museum space.
You can hear the water and right away referencing the middle passage.
Shadows on the wall.
The choreography disrupts the literal representation b/c I becomes more like an
assembly w/ each one going after the other.
Close up face
Memory of the ancestor
Invented memory of the
To re-‐embody this passage
The Djembe referencing Da motherland
The grunts, labor or pulled, or pain or sexualized.
The working body
Da downlow he keeping going….
(the workers: anesthesiologist, technical writer, the neighborhood)
Questions: Work clothes-‐professionals
Student of history
Interest in endurance-‐in the marine corps for 4 years-‐it influences everything,
indoctrination. Took him 3 weeks to ask to go the bathroom.
Push your body to places-‐
use as a driving force for work
Grew up in the suburbs of DC and learned the blues Led Zeppelin
At 30 years old really understanding Invisible Man. Memory, physical history.
Mental is 10 times more damaging. Negotiation is part of it. Combative
piece-‐ not everyone can stomach.
Esther Baker-Tarpaga is co-artistic director of Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project www.btdanceproject.com, which has performed at I Trotra Festival Madagascar, Jacobs Pillow Inside Out Festival, Kelly Strayhorn, REDCAT LA, Action Danse Morocco, Abok I NGoma Cameroon, and Dialogue De Corps Burkina Faso. She curates vlog www.shiftafrica.wordpress.com, featuring performance and interviews with African choreographers. She toured with David Rousseve/REALITY and has performed with Guillermo Gomez-Pena La Pocha Nostra and Hind Benali, Morocco. She has taught at OSU, UCLA, Atelier Aex Corps Senegal, and Cypress Community College. She is the recipient of a NY Live Arts Suitcase Fund, BETHA Grant, and was a State Dept. Cultural Envoy in Guinea, Botswana, and South Africa. She co-directs an annual dance/music workshop in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.