FRONTLINES OF ALL KIND is a new video commission documenting artists Navild Acosta and Fannie Sosa endeavors and challenges during the pandemic. The filming occurred during the rehearsal period of the Black Power Naps opera “Choir of the Slain” slated to premier at a Berlin theater in the fall of 2020. The opera offers a lush audiovisual landscape where rest and idleness reclaim power and offer healing for the people who are most denied rest and relaxation. Based on historic truths and recent studies, we know that race, class, and socio-economic status determine the amount of quality rest that one can achieve. Working under the strain of a global pandemic exacerbates this social inequity for many, particularly Black people who labor at front lines of all kinds. By creating a collage of the beautiful moments found against the backdrop of institutional power structures, FRONTLINES OF ALL KIND offers an insight into what liberating spaces of rest for Black and racialized people entails.

The video presentation will be followed by a conversation between artist Mandy Harris Williams, Sosa, and Acosta. Black Power Naps will finish the program by leading a soundscape meditation session.

We welcome you to join the event with anything to support your comfort and rest. Bring your eye masks, pillows, essential oils, and relaxing beverages.

About the curators

Jessica A. Cooley and Ann M. Fox have been curatorial collaborators since 2009. Jessica is a scholar-curator currently finishing her dissertation titled Crip Materiality, which forwards a new methodology to address how ableism affects the understanding and valuation of the very fibers of art materials within curatorial and conservation discourses; Ann is a Professor of English at Davidson College in Davidson, NC, with specialties in disability studies in literature and art. They have co-curated two disability-related exhibitions together, RE/FORMATIONS: Disability, Women, and Sculpture and STARING. In addition, both Jessica and Ann have been invited to give national and international talks, hired as consultants to lend their expertise to issues related to disability and art, and contributed to a broad range of other curatorial projects and publications.

About the speakers

Black Power Naps is a sculptural installation, vibrational device and curatorial initiative that reclaims laziness and idleness as power. Departing from historical records that show that deliberate fragmentation of restorative sleep patterns were used to subjugate and extract labor from enslaved people, we have realised that this extraction has not stopped, it has only morphed. A state of constant fatigue is still used to break our will. This “sleep gap” shows that there are front lines in our bedrooms as well as the streets: deficit of sleep and lack of free time for some is the building block of the “free world.” After learning who benefits most from restful sleep and down time, we are creating interactive surfaces for a playful approach to investigate and practice deliberate energetic repair. As Afro Latinx artists, we believe that reparation must come from the institution under many shapes, one of them being the redistribution of rest, relaxation, and down times.

Mandy Harris Williams is an artist and community worker living and working in Los Angeles. In her artwork, she creates and performs multiple didactic and deconstructive gestures that unpack themes of race and social structures, desire, tech, algorithm, and attentionality. In her work as Programming Director at the Women’s Center for Creative Work, she programs in a similarly creative and responsive way, creating events, book clubs, workshops, artist talks and community clubs.