The Brooklyn-based choreographer, performer, and writer Okwui Okpokwasili is the Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio’s first artist-in-residence. For the duration of the Studio Residency, the Kravis Studio will become Okpokwasili’s working space, a site for incubation, experimentation, and collaboration, and a resource for developing and creating new work behind closed doors. Through three public events, the audience will have the opportunity to experience the evolution of Okpokwasili’s new piece.
Okpokwasili explores the roles of African and African American women by creating multidisciplinary performance pieces that seek to shape the shared space inhabited by the audience and performer. “I want to build full and rich characters with integrity, brown bodies laboring within a very specific and charged context,” says the artist. Her productions, created in collaboration with acclaimed designer Peter Born, are experimental in form, bringing together elements of dance, theater, and the visual arts.
In this residency Okpokwasili will be developing a story, written by the artist herself, that unfolds across space and time, beginning with a fictitious event in a precolonial Nigeria of her imagination and focusing on one family’s violent entanglement in the transatlantic slave trade. Together with a group of collaborators, Okpokwasili will use the residency as a space for developing the piece through movement, sound, spoken texts, and “folk” songs.
A testament to MoMA’s ongoing commitment to supporting artists’ processes and ideas, the Studio Residency program will become a place where art comes to life in new and inspiring ways.
The public is invited to view the artist’s working process on select dates in August:
Tuesday, August 23, 3:00 p.m.: open rehearsal
Thursday, August 25, 3:00 p.m.: open rehearsal
Friday, August 26, 3:00 p.m.: open rehearsal, followed by a conversation between Okwui Okpokwasili and Saidiya Hartman. The conversation will be live-streamed.
Directed by Okwui Okpokwasili, Peter Born
Production manager: Michaelangelo DeSerio
Collaborators: Bernice Brooks, mayfield brooks, Brittany Engel-Adams, McKenzie Frye, Audrey Hailes, Will Johnson, NIC kay, Samita Sinha, Stacy Lynn Smith, AJ Wilmore.
Organized by Ana Janevski, Curator, with Gee Wesley and May Makki, Curatorial Assistants, Department of Media and Performance. Produced by Kate Scherer, Manager and Producer, with Jessie Gold, Aminah Ibrahim, and Kayva Yang, Assistant Performance Coordinators, Performance and Live Programs.