Field of Inquiry: Body Politic Edition

Field of Inquiry: Body Politic Edition

For the past year, I’ve been working with and regularly blown away by the Body Politic Think Tank, part of the Creative Ecosystem project at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Field of Inquiry is our collective response to our past months of brainstorming, dreaming, and working together. I’m honored to have been a part of the group and excited to share our work with everyone!

YBCA Theater Lobbies and Plaza
700 Howard St.
FREE to the public Sat, Feb 1, 4–7:30pm

What is on the other side of your body’s shame? What is on the other side of your body’s joy?

Each year, as part of the Creative Ecosystem series, YBCA convenes a new think tank of cross-disciplinary public intellectuals to dialogue about and produce a creative response to one of the season’s performances. This year, in response to Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company performances of UNTITLED FEMINIST SHOW, the Body Politic Think Tank explores the questions: What is on the other side of your body’s shame? What is on the other side of your body’s joy?

Body Politic Think Tank members, which include yoga practitioners, LGBTQ activists, trauma specialists as well as artist/healers, will fill the YBCA Theater building with “physical responses”—interactive visual and performative installations—that invite you to explore and re-imagine shame, joy, and empowerment in the body.


In conjunction with Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company: UNTITLED FEMINIST SHOW:



“The Naked Soul: Sounds of Black Shame”
Candice Wicks, Think Tank Member
Tommy “Soulati” Shepherd Jr.
Jayme Brown
N’gala McCoy
Kamailia Williams (dancer)

Antique Naked Soul, an beatboxing all vocal soul band, creates a soundscape of what the historical shame of Blackness sounds like.,

“The Revolving Auditory Doorway between Joy, Shame, and Self”
Jay-Marie Hill, Think Tank Member (Youth Organizer, Musician and Queer Thinker)
Wazi Davis
Linda Chen
Christine Bradley
J Walker
Leah Weinstein

This auditory installation explores the relationship between People of Color, Music, Masculinity & Womanhood as the answer and place to where Gender Non-Conforming bodies can ascend in order to process, live and love through joy and shame. We play (literally and spiritually) beneath our Queer of Color literary and artistic ancestors as they have reminded us the permission our bodies have to thrive, and we follow in their ancestral footsteps, living their lessons on how to conquer a world that frames our “shameful” existence with pure and musical joy.

“Sports Emancipated”
Dania Cabello, Think Tank Member
Las Cafeteras (music)
Fatima Ghatala, (Photographer as a collaborator)
Santiago Halty and SENDA Athletics (apparel+equipment)

Sports Emancipated is a performative piece that combines themes of freedom, movement, and sport in a context where laws, policies, and institutions seek to restrict movement across borders and confine bodies in prisons. Attendees are invited to participate in a ritual where we will liberate our bodies through dance, soccer, and movement in response to and in spite of the unfreedom of the current political moment.

“center for humanature”
Megan Nicely, Think Tank Member (choreographer/performer)
Sasha Petrenko, Think Tank Member (Founder, The New Urban Naturalists)

Gathering bodily messages and setting them in motion through live sound and dance, audiences are invited to write physical and emotional experiences to/from their bodies on wishing slips of paper (like Japanese ema) that are then woven together to create the performance environment. Tea will be served.

“Do As Anyanwu Do”
Ana María Agüero Jahannes, Think Tank Member(art director, choreographer, dancer/acrobat)
India Sky (dancer/acrobat)
Antoinette Chen See (dancer/acrobat)

An Afrofuturistic performance installation set in a tall grass sanctuary that explores the physical and energetic relationship between healer and seeker of health through partner acrobatics, dance, and Thai massage.

“Addressing Shame: Honoring Black Gay Writers Lost to AIDS”
Marvin K. White, Think Tank Member

Every pencil in the hand of a black gay poet, once sharpened, becomes
activated, becomes a monument to all of our stories began, written and ended prematurely. Marvin monumentalizes these lives lost to AIDS through the simple act of sharpening embossed pencils, naming, transcribing, and inviting visitors to take a monumental pencil with them. The act of writing and remembering is monumental.

“Luminous is this mind”
Sean Feit, Think Tank Member
Immersion in darkness is revered in the Buddhist tradition as a powerful support for seeing and understanding the nature of one’s own heart and mind. Audience members are invited to join the artist for a 15 minute “dark retreat,” which could include meditation, conversation, movement, song, or healing ritual, personalized for each participant.

“Sing The Body Electric”
Laurel Butler, Think Tank Member (performer, choreographer, educator/facilitator)
Ron Ragin, Think Tank Member (performer)
Jesse Hewit (artist, curator, director/choreographer)

Through the acts of singing and moving, we will explore our bodies’ capacities to convey, invoke, resist, and submit to joy and shame. We invite audience members to select songs from our “Joy & Shame” playlist and to give us tasks that shape the scores for our performances, encouraging us to embody emotions in (perhaps) unexpected ways. Come explore with us!

Melinda James, Think Tank Member (filmmaker)
Ana María Agüero Jahannes, Think Tank Member (dancer)
Yesenia Espana (figure)
Matthew Suggett (musician)

A 4-minute video about the physical journey through sorrow and loss to a place of balance, illustrated by traveling and choreographed movement along a wood line.

“American Trained Barber”
Essence Harden, Think Tank Member (PhD Student)
Jihaari Terry (Artist)

This installation considers hair styling practices as a discursive site on the subjects of blackness and masculinity. Thus, asking how beauty, joy, and shame are (re)configured and (re)inscribed in the space of the barber shop.

“the CONTACT project”
Daniel Davis, Think Tank Member (Assistant Director, performer)
Krista DeNio (Project Director)
Hope Hutman (Intermedia Design)
Katarina Eriksson (collaborator, performer)
Utam Moses (collaborator, performer)
Tina Taylor (collaborator, performer)
Sonia Decker (collaborator, performer)
Stephen Funk (collaborator, performer)
William McQueen (collaborator, performer)
Daniel Lippel (collaborator, performer)

the CONTACT project works to bridge the societal divide between veterans and non-veterans by engaging complex questions about war, violence and our own histories, in a safe and supportive environment. By making a place to share all of our stories, we begin to heal the rift created through silence and forces that separate us.

“Resistance and Becoming”
Lex Non Scripta, Think Tank Member (lead artist)
Voula O’Grady (supporting artist)

A video meditation on identity, perception, and desire that explores narratives of embodiment and resistance.

“moving from shame to JOY”
Kamailia Williams, Think Tank Member
Rashad Pridgen (choreographer/consultant)

A somatic experience of moving through shame and making space for joy to become fully present and expressed. Recognizing that vulnerability lies in both shame/joy and recognizing its power to heal

“Mimi and the See-Through Dress”
Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Think Tank Member
Yemi Ayobade (tailor)

Special thanks to the Black Studies communities at University of Texas @ Austin
This participatory installation explores storytelling and complicated sexual desire from a young girl’s perspective.

“The Body Block – A performative exploration into the commodification of bodies”
Denise Jolly, Think Tank Member
Sonya Renee Taylor, Think Tank Member
Baruch Porras Hernandez (Performer)
Aaron Baum (performer)

“The Body Block” invites artists and audiences to examine the performative nature of identity while exploring how consumerist culture entangles narratives of body joy and shame in a matrix of historical and modern day commodification based on inherent and assigned body markers.

“How We Heal: Releasing trauma endured by the PIC”
Adrienne Skye Roberts, Think Tank Member
Sara Yassky, Think Tank Member
Sandra Johnson
Samantha Rogers
Mira Stern
Dagmar Hesker
LaSonya Wells

An unfolding collaboration among members of California Coalition for Women Prisoners exploring somatic and/or embodied practices as a way to heal from the prison industrial complex; specifically our experiences as survivors of the prison system and witnesses of our loved ones inside.

“Sobe as Antipassadas (climb the Foremothers)”
Amara Tabor Smith, Think Tank Member
Malia Connor
Karen Ransom
Regina Califa Calloway
Dana Kawano (costume collaborator)

A moving installation/cry/prayer that conjures the joy, shame, beauty, power and degradation of the ancient feminine. How do we choose to face them in these precarious times? When is enough really enough? What are they trying to tell us? Is a greater healing still even possible?

Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene, Think Tank Member (performer, video artist)

An interactive video project that consists of multiple videos addressing the death of my mother, grief, how we live with and in the aftermath of the death of those we cherish. This project also includes the opportunity for attendees to address and explore their own grief and love through writing prompts.

“Força Das Aguas”
Tala Khanmalek, Think Tank Member (multi-media storyteller)
in collaboration with local capoeiristas

“Força Das Aguas” considers how the historical form of a capoeira roda, or circle, hinges on multiple dimensions of witnessing joy and shame alike by playing a series of participatory games. Through capoeira’s other elements–music, dance, attacks, and defenses–we will also explore the relationship between the body and one of the roda’s central metaphors: the ocean.

Ashara Ekundayo, Think Tank Member
Neena Joiner
Sarah Filley
Live video installation piece exploring the intersection of bondage, bodies and social media.

“Immortal Ninja Alchemy World”
Ean McLean, Think Tank Member
Eesuu Orundide
Armondo Davila Kirkwood

Two large 6 ft experiential magnetic eggs for people to experience healing energy, a table of foods that heal and increase the energy of the body, and more.

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