Banishing | Binding | Incantation | Damali Abrams

If you are reading this in the United States or Canada, whose land are you on, dear reader? What are the specific names of the Native nation(s) who have historical claim to the territory on which you currently read this article? What are their histories before European invasion? What are their historical and present acts of resistance to colonial occupation? If you are like most people in the United States and Canada, you cannot answer these questions. And this disturbs me.
— Qwo-Li Driskill (Cherokee), “Doubleweaving Two-Spirit Critiques: Building Alliances between Native and Queer Studies”
Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.
— Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom
Imagine what a Black-loving world looks like.
— Darnell Moore
...I’m interested in the convergence of blackness and the irreducible sound of necessarily visual performance at the scene of objection.
— Fred Moten, In the Break
He claims women shouldn’t write about themselves… I asked him Why not? and he said that white male writers, like Faulkner and Hawthorne and Mark Twain, never wrote about themselves, and that they were masters at it. And I asked him whether this didn’t come out of a tradition of being a writer but needing to keep quiet about the slaving and gunrunning and Indian killing in your family tree. In other words, I said, if white men wrote truthfully about themselves, how could they continue to fool the rest of us?
The transformative power of love is not fully embraced in our society because we often wrongly believe that torment and anguish are our ‘natural’ condition.
— bell hooks
The young African-American jazz pianist Robert Glasper recently declared that his generational jazz peers have no soul compared to New World Afrikan Church or even hiphop musicians, because the jazz cats of now don’t make music capable of making people dance, shout, cry, collapse, or speak in tongues. That’s what you call setting the bar high, drawing a line in the sand, raising expectations, and whatnot.
This, of course, begs the question: is there a contemporary Black Visual Art capable of dragging folk down to the floor, not to mention dragging them Poltergeist-style off to other dimensions, as actually occurs through African visual forms - akwaba, veve, ground drawings, masks, trance, visibly possessed dancers whose rhythms enable vision quests. Not to imply that there should be some sort of test of Black Authenticity or Black Magic grounded in Black Music for New World Afrikan visual culture, but to remind that community-based African artistic practice has established a remote and miraculous event horizon, an oblique phenomenological point of cosmological and quantum regeneration and musical and visual mechanisms for invoking vertiginous, convulsive possession, psychic and physiological transcendence.
Could such affects also become the target zone or even the provenance of our twenty-first century New World Afrikan imagists?
— Greg Tate, Hoodoo Is What We Do
This is a career about images. It’s celluloid; they last forever. I’m a Black woman from America. My people were slaves in America, and even though we’re free on paper and in law, I’m not going to allow you to enslave me on film, in celluloid, for all to see.
— Angela Bassett
Myth Creation is a Form of our Collective and Individual Liberation:
We have the power to create our own stories to empower ourselves and our communities. We can change, write and rewrite our stories of ourselves and our people where we control the outcome. The history that has been sold us, is no more than a myth, thus we brilliantly, fiercely create our own.
— 10th Tenant of Alien Nation
Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.
— Frida Kahlo
Gaining mastery of our own image means introducing into our world voices & colors that escape globalization & standardization. It means refusing to be merely the product of the gaze of the other and providing one’s own version of self, in accordance with one’s cultural codes & aesthetics, as silent contradiction.
— Simon Njami
The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.
— bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love
Women are not inherently more interested in or more able to love than are men. From girlhood on, we learn to be more enchanted with love. Since the business of loving came to be identified as women’s work, females have risen to the occasion and claimed love as our topic…We begin our conversations about love in girlhood and are still talking about love as elderly women approaching death. Our obsession with love is sanctioned and sustained by the culture we live in.
— bell hooks, communion
When people of color are expected to educate white people as to their humanity, when women are expected to educate men, lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world, the oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions.
— Audre Lorde
What I’m dealing with is so vast and great that it can’t be called the truth. It’s above the truth.
— Sun Ra
I am Black, not because of a curse, but because my skin has been able to capture all the cosmic effluvia. I am truly a drop of sun under the earth.
— Frantz Fanon
I beg you sisters to perform magical works, chant prayers, and initiate actions daily that will cause war, hunger, rape, battery, murder, and the Ism Brothers (racism, sexism, classism) to drop dead! Pray that their names are eradicated from the face of the earth. Invoke for their extinction. See to it that they bear no children in the minds and hearts of the people.
— Louisah Teish, Jambalaya pg 201
I let go. I shed, detoxify, de-clutter, and empty to make room for me. I will crawl until I can walk. I will walk until I can run. I will run until I can leap. I will leap until I can fly, and I will release that which no longer serves me.
— Abiola Abrams, The Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love
No matter how many people tell me “Stop believing in yourself,” “Stop saying what you can do,” “Stop affirming what you’re gonna do and then completing that in real life,” “That’s the improper way to do it”. I refuse to follow those rules that society has set up and the way that they control people with low self-esteem.
— Kanye West
More people need to know that they’re not fucking cool.
— Kanye West
Tú eres mi otro yo. Si te daño a ti, me daño a mi mismo. Si te respeto a ti, me respeto a mi mismo.

You are my other me. If I harm you, I harm myself. If I respect you, I respect myself.
— Mayan concept “In Lak’ech” (You are my other me)

About the Performance

Performance recorded at "From The Belly of The Beast: a night of performance art on Intersectionality, Feminisms and Indigeneity from across turtle island," curated by Maria Hupfield and Katya Grokhovsky, presented by THE FEMINIST ART PROJECT @CAA 2017. Makeup by Lovable Body Art’s Adana Collins.

Women & Performance