Kandis Williams: Semiosis Cataracts
Performed by Lina Venegas
Soundtrack by Isis Scott (NON records, US) / live score by Florian Reither (Mama
Gelitin, AU) / Florian Botka / Stefan Dreher (blue in the face, DE)
As a stage for this new performance piece Kandis Williams constructed a small paper garden of Philodendron, Anthurium, and Peace Lily plants, adorned with images of porn performers Pinky, Nyomi Banxxx, Midori, Heather Hunter, Jada Fire and Carrie Mae West – protagonists of a highly frequented cinema of black flesh that has proactively been produced for decades. In Semiosis Cataracts Williams creates a space of intimacy between performer and audience and complicity between producer and consumer. She provocatively navigates the un-languaged hierarchies and continuities of colonial relationships, representation and gaze and its normalized violences through ecological, botanical and ethnopornographic metaphors alike.
A dancer moves through the rigid bodily movements of Mary Wigman’s expressionist Hexentanz II from 1914. T he witches occult dance however, also indicates a return to ‘primitive ritualism’, which is linked to the construction of the non-Western ‘Other’ as authentic and pure. In Semiosis Cataracts, Hexentanz II is extended out of Wigman’s orientalism into another erotic narrative of expansions and contractions and attempts of resistance against systems of dominance.
Four drummers hidden in the display windows, behind large curtains, seem to control the movements of the performer like an invisible force, sonically scored and improvised. Williams here tries to make palpable the double-consciousness of seeing and completing the self through the eyes of the (white, male) other and the positioning of the phallogocentric gaze that has normalized codes of representation that produce sexualized bodies and meanings desirable to (post)colonial consumers.(1)
Williams suggests that , stemming from the transmitted idea that black femininity is somehow more sexual, more bodily, more biological and closer to nature , these bodies are rendered in both sexual contempt and sexual longing. The bodies of women of color in this perspective, lie outside the realm of the human subject: in line with Judith Butler who addresses this exclusionary matrix that requires the “production of a domain of abject beings, those who are not yet "subjects", but who form the constitutive outside to the domain of the subject'.
Kandis Williams (born 1985 in Baltimore) is based in Los Angeles and Berlin. Primarily working with collages and drawings, her engagements branch out to encompass mediums such as text and contemporary dance to examine socio-cultural constructs of race, place, history and the self. Williams received her BFA in 2008 from the Cooper Union School of Art, New York. Her work has been exhibited at Night Gallery and SADE, Los Angeles; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; The Underground Museum, Los Angeles; The Breeder, Athens and Human Resources, Los Angeles.
(1) Double Consciousness is a term coined by W. E. B. Du Bois to describe an individual whose identity is divided into several facets. As a theoretical tool, “double consciousness” reveals the psycho-social divisions in American society and allows for a full understanding of those divisions. Du Bois’ focus on the specificity of black experience allows for challenging injustice in national and world systems.