ACI ARTIST LEADER BASIL KINCAID
International Residency: Accra, Ghana
National Residency: St.Louis, USA
Voices Felt in Movements
Twisting in dis-syncopation there lies writhing a sequence or sorrow song under my tongue, reaching down deep to wrap itself around the veins and ventricles of a weary heart, a strong heart that beats despite the constrictions, almost to spite them, but more so that as songs unravel and words, or at first mere syllables, creep up to the top of my tongue then off of its tip to meet fresh air, that they may be flits of star light in night skies, pallid and dull orange, tainted with the pollution of a world of misguided ambitions.
Like ants, fresh on the scent of fallen bits of fish, letters crawl, spiraling up my throat as if the pheromonal pathways that they follow were etched by ancient palms, laying drum beats and psalms on the tablet of my inner flesh when I was just 2 cells determined in their division to multiply and contour the journey of these words, these movements.
My first steps foibles hewn by a hand I feel inside me, guiding my membranes, paving aqueducts for ink to swim black, from my blackened soul, black rivers that wind, mimicking veins that mimic deltas spilling out to remember in that moment of meeting the sea a connection that they were a part of all along, yet we, and I, and I imagine you even, feel lost at times like a drop of water separated from its family in the clouds, leaving their embrace on the way to the ground, leaves remembering a life on the limb, rain still in the silver lining, both unaware until they meet the dust and soil that their next life in decomposition will feed the fond memory of future leaves in a life they have yet to live, one akin to the memories we hold so dear in our own descent.
Like one thought folding into the next, in that space between consciousness and sub-consciousness, where the things that we call art, or mystery, or magic are born, we sit in the deep blue, a dark navy mud of fetal spirits, a sensation so oddly cool that somehow sends waves of warmth through the body and soul.
Then you realize that the body is but a thought in this space, a way to imagine a container for your energy. An energy that longs for the same freedom that we do, yet it doesn’t fear the knowledge that this freedom will come in what we have learned to call death. In the absence of fear we take another stand from another angle to attack systems that we wish died along with our leaders in their assassinations and exiles.
Questions fall like logs or dead trees in the path of ants, leading my troubled mind to construct alternate routes, that my thoughts may lead to words and actions that lead to the liberation of one if not many, and hopefully others if the choice must be made between them and me, that their nights may not know the face of long suffering. His wrinkled and contorted features and how he turns his head to show your mind’s eye his ideal of beauty, a construction to which your crinkling DNA strands do not conform.
This two faced deceiver, this dementor, this glorified larrikin rocks you into sleep with sirens and twisted lullabies and notifies you via push, kick and in-between the lines of Facebook, of the deaths, I mean murders, of men and 12 year old boys that will most assuredly go unpunished, because the genocide that we face is like a cigarette, a slow death that is legal to consume.
We exist in a perfect chain of incessant linkage to a time to which we deny any association. Somehow our plight is made to seem coincidence, when even flies know the network of a spider’s web is formed for her entrapment. And, how we sit somnambulists, taking the white pill rather than the red or blue as if submission to what we are thought to be will unburden us from the desire to be free, free, and free and ourselves in our natural majesty. I can almost hear my ancestors speaking into the recesses of my mind yet their “words” are movements and for now I can only understand them when I dance.
In December I have made great progress on a number of works and have been able to collaborate locally on, and in concert with partners working in the United States. I have felt like my art is truly connecting internationally and that I was living up to the mission and vision of ACI as well as my own personal mission. Below I have shared images from these projects and works in process. Throughout the month, I have spent a generous amount of time writing poetry, and above I have shared one of the works. I am enjoying the process of spending time by the beach each morning to write and reflect, vibrating with the energy of the ocean as I start my day.
I am very pleased with the way that the work with the scratch cards has taken shape and has begun to evolve. I am joining the scratch cards with USPS air mail stickers that I brought with me. These air mail stickers are important to me because they build a link between this installment of the Reclamation Project and the past St. Louis installment. Ever since about 6th grade I have used these air mail stickers for making art in some form or another. When I was in middle school I had friends that would sneak out at night to spray paint but I couldn’t get away with that so I would draw on the stickers at night and put them up around the city after school before I got picked up to go home.
During the first phase of the Reclamation Project in St. Louis my collaborators and I made drawings and paintings on the stickers and framed them with download codes for music from the project and sold them for $10 to make the work of the project accessible to the public- and especially for people that cannot afford to spend large amounts of money on the major works of art that we were producing for the shows. I like having a consistent thread throughout this expanding web of Reclamation work, and I feel that it really ties together the international component of this body of work to use materials gathered from home, and from here, bringing them together to make something that couldn’t be made in either place alone but can only be made when the two places are brought together.
Another project that I am very proud to have had the opportunity to collaborate on was the All Hand on Deck Project that my collaborator in the Reclamation Project started in St. Louis in response to the Michael Brown murder and in response to structural racism and police brutality at large. Before I left for Ghana we were both active in the movement in St. Louis, using art combat racism and inequality and organizing local groups and meetings to respond to issues facing the community focusing especially on police brutality. Shortly after I left the United States he started this project and we were in communication about how I could use my time here to make the project into an international movement- and bring an element of Pan-African solidarity to the effort.
I collaborated with some artists and friends here to get the art work up in areas with high visibility and we spent time talking with people on the street about what they project means and how the goal is to use art to bring people of all races together. We discussed the importance of Africans working with African Americans to help each other understand one another and move forward together, a topic that I am very personally interested in and can be difficult to address because of how separated we are in our lived experiences.
I also met with a woman that runs a school based around Autism inclusion and we will collaborate in January to plan and implement an art program with the kids. I am very excited about that opportunity to work with children and to advance inclusion for all children.
Stay tuned to the adventure that awaits because it will only get better from here.
As the month and the year come to a close I feel like everything is unfolding beautifully. My birthday was on the 28th and it felt so indescribably special to spend that day and night here with my new friends and collaborators here in Ghana. I found myself at certain moments throughout the night in disbelief in the fact that this is actually my life. I am living my dream.
Fireworks went off in the distance and I imagined that they were just for me.
We danced for hours and I felt cleansed through dance, made new for the New Year. I am not sure why, but as a child, I always imagined my 28th year being something truly magnificent. I always looked forward to turning 28, and that night was quite possibly the best night of my life.
The next day my friends said that there must have been a special spirit accompanying us because they had never danced for many hours like that, we were all sore the next day. I feel that there are special things in store for not only my art but global inclusion and the world. I feel the level of consciousness rising and people are responding to important issues, we are no longer silent.
I am excited to see what comes next.