WHAT CONNECTS?, A Collection Of Poems And Images Of Protest Arising Out Of Covid-19, Premieres Next Sunday
In What Connects?, Nova Cypress Black, Tasha Dougé, and Gabriel Ramirez, teaching artists from The Shed's DIS OBEY program for young writers and activists, present commissioned artworks that critique the inequities on display in America's management of and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. What Connects? will premiere on Sunday, May 31 at 6 pm ET on The Shed's Instagram (@theshedny) and website (theshed.org)
For all three artists, this time has been one of reflection on the overlapping emotional, personal, social, and economic effects of the crisis. Working in DIS OBEY's spirit of protest through creative action, they draw attention to the impact of our society's reactions to the virus on Black and Brown communities and lives, raising questions about false narratives of capitalism and who or what is considered essential or expendable.
In no apologies for my delayed response, Nova Cypress Black presents recordings of five poems written on different days of April's National Poetry Month during New York's stay-at-home order. Each presented unedited as first written, the poems react to emotions, headlines, and the empty niceties of workplace culture (like email salutations hoping "all is well") to evoke the longing, loneliness, and loss brought on by the city's lockdown, as well as the economic stresses and abuses of capitalism's unrelenting drive to productivity.
Tasha Dougé's sculptural collage Broken Hands of Time criticises capitalism for using time as an instrument to further its own agenda, a fact illuminated by this moment of disruption. One side of the collate showcases images of the joys set aside, the ancestors who disobeyed inhumane societal constructs, and a glimpse of something reimagined; the other side explores the who, what, when, where, and why of what is considered essential to society. Through found images, Dougé advocates for abandoning this capitalist narrative that takes advantage of Black and Brown workers' lives to keep our economy afloat, asking instead what better future we can create.
In the poem "Undiagnosed Unknowns," Gabriel Ramirez shares his personal and wide-ranging perspective on the COVID-19 crisis. The poem turns attention from Ramirez's emotions, memories, and experience of illness to biased policing, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black people, and fear as the poet lives it, ultimately offering solace in the practice of gratitude, poetry, and care.