Organized by Denniston Hill, Dedalus Foundation presented a conversation between DH alumni Adrienne Edwards, whose work focuses on artists of the African Diaspora and Global South, and Bessie-Award-winning Okwui Okpokwasili, a Nigerian-American artist who works across performance disciplines and genres. Exploring themes of memory and invisibility, Edwards and Okpokwasili talked about performance as a form of resistance and the black body as a site of protest. The conversation is inspired by Okpokwasili’s new work, Poor People’s TV Room—a meeting of dance, text, song, video and installation. The piece premiered earlier this year at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and New York Live Arts. It was partly developed at Denniston Hill in collaboration with her partner Peter Born and draws on two historic Nigerian women-led resistance movements.
Adrienne Edwards is Curator at Performa, Curator at Large at the Walker Art Center, and also a Ph.D. candidate in performance studies at New York University. Her scholarly and curatorial work focuses on artists of the African Diaspora and the Global South, including the Blackness in Abstraction exhibition and catalogue for Pace Gallery and 1:54 PERFORMS for the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. For Performa, Edwards has curated programs, projects, and productions with a wide range of artists, including Performa Commissions by Edgar Arceneaux, Juliana Huxtable, Rashid Johnson, and Laura Lima, in addition to projects and productions by Jonathas de Andrade, Chimurenga, Benjamin Patterson, Pope.L, Ralph Lemon, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, Adam Pendleton, Dave McKenzie, Wangechi Mutu, Will Rawls, and Carrie Mae Weems. Edwards works within the Walker’s visual arts department developing and implementing artist projects and exhibitions and expanding interdisciplinary scholarship and research while making key contributions to the Walker's acquisitions planning. She is a contributor to numerous exhibition catalogues and art publications, including Aperture, Art in America, Artforum.com, Parkett, and Spike Art Quarterly.
Okwui Okpokwasili is a New York-based writer, performer and choreographer. In partnership with collaborator Peter Born, Okpokwasili creates multidisciplinary projects. Their first New York production, Pent-Up: A Revenge Dance premiered at Performance Space 122 and received a 2010 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Production; an immersive installation version was featured in the 2008 Prelude Festival. Their second collaboration, Bronx Gothic, won a 2014 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Production and toured nationally and internationally. Bronx Gothic: The Oval was a featured performance installation at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s 2014 River to River Festival. When I Return Who Will Receive Me was featured at LMCC’s 2016 River to River Festival. An early iteration of Poor People’s TV Room, was presented by Lincoln Center in the David Rubinstein Atrium in June 2014.
As a performer, Okpokwasili frequently collaborates with award- winning director Ralph Lemon, including How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?; Come home Charley Patton (for which she also won a New York Performance “Bessie” Award); a duet performed at The Museum of Modern Art as partof On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century; and, most recently, Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room. She has worked with Nora Chipaumire, Julie Taymor, Kristin Marting, Young Jean Lee, Richard Foreman, and Richard Maxwell.