Our project aims to take Baldwin's Nigger RELOADED II a live reenactment performance created by artist Barby Asante with collective sorryyoufeeluncomfortable to the International Baldwin Conference in Paris. Baldwin's Nigger RELOADED II has toured the UK and has been performed at Art Rotterdam. This will take the performance to a new audience and a new context. The conference will be presented at the American University of Paris from May 26th to May 28th 2016.
We are fundraising to cover the costs of taking our team to Paris to share, deliver and present the performance at the conference. Our team includes Barby Asante, two members of the collective sorryyoufeeluncomfortable and our producer Teresa Cisneros. We are hoping that this fundraiser will support us with accommodation, travel, sustenance and documentation.
Our project began with BN Reloaded at Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) in 2014. Barby and Teresa invited 15 young artists, thinkers and activists to explore the themes and ideas emerging in Horace Ove's 1969 film Baldwin's Nigger. http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/480522/ The film captures a significant discussion between James Baldwin and Dick Gregory at the West Indian Student Centre in London. By undertaking research in London archives and through conversations with artists, sorryyoufeeluncomfortable developed a responsive series of new films, performances, artworks, publications for BN Reloaded, a major event at Rivington Place including a screening of the film Baldwin's Nigger as well a Q&A with filmmaker Horace Ove. Two happy outcomes of this event: the sorryyoufeeluncomfortable collective, and the dialogic workshop and performance that we hope to take to Paris, Baldwin's Nigger RELOADED II.
During the film Baldwin’s Nigger, writer and activist James Baldwin makes a powerful speech describing how he came to be described as ‘Baldwin’s nigger’ moving through topics such as the legacy of slavery, Black Power versus integration, the political conditions that led to historic race riots, religion, American Imperialism and the Vietnam War. The dialogue following his speech opens into a translation of this experience into the British post-colonial experience. A provocative question is posed to Baldwin, asking him where he believes the black man will be in 50 years time. Baldwin's answers optimistically, speaking of a black state of mind and a sense of pride from which will emerge a new kind of identity. 50 years later, Baldwin's Nigger RELOADED II reflects on Baldwin’s hopes and reconsiders this provocative question in the context of its reality.
For each Baldwin's Nigger RELOADED II performance we invite local people to re-script Baldwin’s speech with us, remapping its political and social references to consider the continuing legacy and relevance of Baldwin’s speech. The dialogue is rewritten through a performative ritual of transcribing and thinking through Baldwin's provocation in different cities and at different times. With each new reenactment there is an invitation to others to share their ideas, experiences and views on our world and our collective responsibility for it. Each script is collected and archived as a record of conversational responses that explore contemporary subjects such as global terrorism, Islamaphobia, the refugee and migrant "crisis", police brutality, racism and anti blackness, mistrust of our political leaders, economically driven global power structures, wars, white supremacy, identity, gender, sexuality and the role of the archive in developing more integral narratives of politics, society and culture.
For the conference we will make an invitation to 10 conference attendees to join us to re-script the text, to create a new script and performance that is specific to the moment and the context of the conference. This script will become one of the scripts in the archive of the project. Barby is currently in conversation with organisations to explore where such an archive might be kept.
Baldwin’s Nigger RELOADED II has been performed at Nottingham Contemporary, October Gallery-London, Tate Liverpool, Eastside Projects-Birmingham and as part of the Intersections programme at Art Rotterdam with Framer Framed.