“the act of witnessing black women and black femmes in a rested state is a political statement. it pushes back. it disrupts. it says no! it is a form of reparations.”-tricia hersey, founder of the nap ministry
rest/recovery/radicalism/and revolution: a performance essay in 3 movements
light a candle
run a bath filled with cinnamon leaf and cedar oil
rub shea butter all over yr body
adorn yrself with florida water
look in the mirror and see god staring back at you
and remember that even she rested on the 7th day of creation
movement 1: a time to work/a time to rest
in a time of great social upheaval and crisis, some artists dive deeper into their work/seeing it as a refuge and escape from the uncertainty of the world/i am one of these people/my anti-disciplinary art practice is both a safe and brave space for me to conjure worlds that are better than the one we inhabit/my work is pleasurable/joyful/and anarchic/it is a place to play in/a place to remix and remaster form and traditions/it unravels on its own time/capitalist productivity has never been my motivation for making work/we live in a world that tells us our worth is determined by how productive we are/how virtuosic and excellent we can be/and how much capital we can generate/we live in a world where the product is privileged over the process/where the bottom line outweighs emotional impact
what kind of fuckery is this?
when we remix and restructure our minds/we remix and restructure the world
when will we begin to unlearn the toxic beast that is capitalist productivity and invest in our pleasure and rest?
movement 2: re/covery and re/membrance
how do we recover the lost self?/capitalism has decimated the person we used to be/we have been hurt over and over again/disappointed over and over again/yet we still endure and persist/but is this the way?/are we just surviving or are we thriving?/are we defined by our proximity to institutions?/who were we before these institutions existed?/who are we now?/who will we be in the future when the revolution comes?
tap into yr ancient and anarchic self/the primordial person that exists inside of you who craves pleasure/shed the hard outer shell/lean into softness/lean into ease/remember to remember/remember that revolution is rebirth/moving into the future means recovering the past/we are expanding/we are circular beings who have been made to walk a straight line/break the line/break the cycle/break the curse of capitalism/cure yrself/purify yrself of the toxins you have swallowed and that have become a part of yr being/dream big/dream high/dream yr true self into being
movement 3: dreaming the future
we need time to dream
time to be a slow walk of trees
time to take root
time to rest and recover
this is our birthright
it is an act of resistance
how else can we dream the future into being?
when we sit in stillness and silence/we are regenerating ourselves
we are making ourselves vessels to receive the information we need to imagine a future
we are making ourselves whole
we are re/making ourselves
we are dreaming of more pleasurable/joyful futures
come dream with me
come dance with me under twilight
come lie still with me in darkness
olaiya olayemi is a blk/trans/femme/womxn/artist/educator/and activist who centers womxn of the african diaspora in her performative/literary/cinematic/and sonic works of art that explore love/sex/relationships/family/history/memory and radical joy/pleasure. her work is informed by blk/queer/feminist theories/aesthetics/and politics and african indigenous and diasporic spiritual traditions. she has performed at Brooklyn Arts Exchange, JACK, AAA3A, metaDEN, The Wild Project, The Langston Hughes House, Starr Bar, Mayday Space, and Dixon Place. she holds a bachelor of arts in english/creative writing (with a minor in african/black diaspora studies) from depaul university and a master of fine arts in creative writing from emerson college where she was a recipient of the Dean’s Fellowship. she is a 2019-2020 Performance Fellow in Queer Art’s mentorship program. she is also a Fall 2020 Brooklyn Arts Exchange Space Grantee. her experimental screenplay was recently advanced to second round consideration for the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab. she currently lives in queens.