Val Jeanty and Risha Rox: Ritual Merging
Sound artist Val Jeanty and performance artist Risha Rox – two Caribbean American artists whose work explores the diaspora, death, ritual, the ancient past and an envisioned future – are currently developing a live art show in which they create a ritual, merging Jeanty’s soundscape and projection work with Rox’s live painting of human canvases. The final product will be a potent ritual, with the black body as focal site of breath work, movement, projection, sound and visuals. Roulette Intermedium seeks to commission and present the world premiere of the work in Fall 2019/Spring 2020.
Informed by the legacies of Haitian Voodoo, Jamaican Pukumina, New Orleans funereal processions, Americana, Afro-Caribbean carnival, Black speculative fiction, and the creative energy of Afrofuturism, the intention of this work, which exists in the complex bardo between mortality and immortality/despair and joy/past and future/the literal surface and figurative core, is to inspire reflection, reverence and most of all, action.
FROM THE ARTISTS:
We live in a time in which Black bodies dwell both at the forefront of international consciousness and also far beneath the surface. As interdisciplinary artists, creating works which transform problematic and deeply held notions regarding Black bodies is a major element of our practice.
Nina Simone once argued that it is an artist’s duty to reflect the times. In an era marked by genocide, over-militarization, the rise of neo-facism and a seemingly never ending procession of black bodies slain (many of these slaughters upheld by the state), it is a responsibility which we accept, to address these issues.
As an ideology, aesthetic and art making sensibility, Afrofuturism engages what cultural historian Robin Kelly refers to as the Black Radical Imagination. The Black Radical Imagination seeks to not only engage the world as it is presently, but is also speculative, daring to dwell in the not yet. Our fundamental endeavor is to usher in a world not yet here, a world where the lives and bodies of black people actually have value beyond exploitative purposes.
Val Jeanty – “Being born and raised in Haiti until the age of 12 has exposed me to this merging in sound structures and has left an impression on the way I hear and create musical compositions. Living and creating in New York city for over a decade has granted me access to advanced study and knowledge of electronic sound composition. This knowledge in sound merging and design inspired me to create a new genre called Afro-Electronica, which is the incorporation of Haitian traditional ritual music with electronic instruments, the past and the future.”
Risha Rox: “Corporealism, as I have titled my interdisciplinary painting/live art/performance/sculpting/installation art practice, engages a contemporary iteration of two most ancient art forms: body adornment and storytelling. My autoethnographic tales are deeply informed by my heritage as both a multigenerational Black Los Angelina and a first generation Jamaican American of East Indian descent. Corporealism speaks directly to the vital need for reframing the black body.”
From the artists: “This video shows a performative installation presented at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans in May of 2016. Risha performed a gradually building, living painting on the bodies of 3 Black women (a painter, a healer and a midwife) while they performed breathing exercises and body movements to bring about a trance state. In this heightened state, we honored and welcomed our ancestors and spirits of the dead.”
This is an example of how Val Jeanty has utilized Roulette’s space for past collaborations, and her prowess as an electronic artist.
For her 2017 Roulette residency, the Brooklyn composer/performer celebrates her Haitian heritage in an exploration of the correlation of sound, body, and spirit in a collaborative performance with fire dancer Ra Nubi. Jeanty’s AfroElectronica soundscapes combine the spiritual medium of electronic voudou with a the fire spirit element in order to inspire and engage with deeper meanings and communication.
Start and End Dates
08/01/2019 — 03/31/2020
Brooklyn, New York