Child of the swollen sea
for Social Health Performance Club's Survey Said -- Ya Dead at Gallery Sensei, Chinatown, NYC, curated by Geraldo Mercado
I sit stiffly in a chair with my back leaned forward and one hand resting lightly on a nearby table––the exact position my maternal Brazilian grandfather was found dead in recently. The membrane-like receptacles used by my mother for home dialysis treatment are secured around my face, rendering me sightless. In my mouth is a toy accordion from my youth––a totemic symbol of my grandfather, who often serenaded his wife with the instrument. In my right palm is a mound of shea butter, an element I use to underscore the shared hair textures existing between my own family and other, more visibly Afro-Brazilian families, despite a prevailing attitude of anti-blackness.
Thrice during the performance I use a razor to slash at the dialysis bags around my head, unleashing a delicate stream of fluid that has passed through my mother's body and now cascades over mine. The final time I do this, I slash at the bag over my eyes, enacting an Oedipal-esque moment that paradoxically brings vision back to me––albeit of a softened, ethereal quality, as the membrane continues to partially mask the intense fluorescents overhead.
The shea butter is then applied to my hair and directly over my eyes, rendering me vision-less again, and I get up from my seat, holding the toy accordion in my hands, attempting to use the resonant sounds of this tinny pseudo-instrument to navigate throughout the space––searching for an exit that I was never able to find.