Marguerite Hemmings and LaJuné McMillian: Antidote

Co-presented with Pioneer Works

Choreographer Marguerite Hemmings and new media artist LaJuné McMillian utilize motion caption software to explore their relationships to embodiment and spirituality. Antidote takes the form a video work and website that considers the liberatory capacities of movement, and how the healing of our bodies, lands, and movements can be enacted inside of virtual reality technologies. The work investigates how virtual reality and motion capture technology can mirror the technologies of our ancestors and our bodies. Antidote features a sound score by Rena Anakwe.

Framing Antidote is a virtual land acknowledgment authored by Hemmings, McMillian, creative technologist Salome Asega, and Afro Indigenous activist Amber Starks (aka Melanin Mvskoke). Together, they address the colonial contexts that frame human relationships to both land and cyberspace.


ABOUT

Marguerite Hemmings is a Jamaican born, Jersey-raised performance artist and educator currently based in Philadelphia, USA. She specializes in experimental, emergent, migratory, improvisational and social dance/movement styles and technologies, rooted in the story of the African Diaspora. Hemmings’ work centers itself in liberation. She has been subverting, working, and creating with youth as a teaching artist for a very long time. She has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Council, Harlem Stage, University Settlement, and Dancing While Black to further her work. She is most recently a recipient of the 2017-18 Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellowship, and through that, also the Projecting All Voices Fellowship at ASU. She is a 2017 recipient of the Bessie Award for Outstanding Performer in Eva Yaa Asantewaa’s Skeleton Architecture. She currently works inside of a self/spirit directed thing called we free. we free looks at the millennial and post-millennial approach to liberation through its music, social dance and social media. More can be found at wefreeee.com.

LaJuné McMillian is a New Media Artist, and Creative Technologist creating art that integrates Performance, Virtual Reality, and Physical Computing to question our current forms of communication. LaJuné has had the opportunity to show and speak about their work at Pioneer Works, National Sawdust, Leaders in Software and Art, Creative Tech Week, and Art && Code’s Weird Reality. LaJuné was previously the Director of Skating at Figure Skating in Harlem, where they integrated STEAM and Figure Skating to teach girls of color about movement and technology. They have continued their research on Blackness, Movement, and Technology during residencies at Eyebeam, Pioneer Works, Barbarian Group, and Barnard College.

Rena Anakwe is an interdisciplinary artist and performer working primarily with sound, visuals, and scent. Exploring intersections between traditional healing practices, spirituality and performance, she creates works focused on sensory-based, experiential interactions using creative technology. 

Currently, Rena is a 2020–21 resident of the Abrons Arts Center AIRspace performance program. She was also a 2019 ISSUE Project Room artist-in-residence, a 2019 Abrons Arts Center Sound Series commissioned artist, and a 2018 Signal Culture artist-in-residence. She has collaborated, produced, and shown work at New York City institutions including: Weeksville Heritage Center, Dia Foundation, Fridman Gallery, Knockdown Center, Lincoln Center, MoMA PS1, CultureHub, Pioneer Works, and Montez Press Radio. Most recently, under the moniker A Space for Sound, Anakwe released the first in an ongoing audio series titled “Sound Bath Mixtape vol. 1”, through the New York City-based label and collective PTP. 

Rena is based in Brooklyn, New York, by way of Nigeria and Canada. || aspaceforsound.com

Salome Asega is an artist and researcher based in Brooklyn, NY. Salome has participated in residencies and fellowships with Eyebeam, New Museum, The Laundromat Project, and Recess. She has exhibited at the Shanghai Biennale, MoMA, Carnegie Library, August Wilson Center, Knockdown Center, and more. She has also given presentations and lectures at Performa, EYEO, Brooklyn Museum, MIT Media Lab, NYU, and more. Salome is currently a Ford Foundation Technology Fellow landscaping new media artist and organization networks. She is also the Director of Partnerships at POWRPLNT, a youth digital art collaboratory in Brooklyn. Salome received her MFA from Parsons at The New School in Design and Technology where she also teaches classes on speculative design and participatory design methodologies.

Amber Starks (Melanin Mvskoke) is an Afro Indigenous activist and cultural critic. She is an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and is also of Shawnee, Yuchi, Quapaw, and Cherokee descent. Her activism seeks to normalize and affirm the intersection of Black and Native identity through discourse and advocacy around anti-Blackness, abolishing blood quantum, Black liberation, and Indigenous sovereignty. She encourages Black and Indigenous peoples to prioritize one another and divest from compartmentalizing struggles. She ultimately believes the partnerships between Black and Indigenous peoples will aid in the dismantling of anti-blackness, white supremacy, and settler colonialism, globally. Her pronouns are she/her.

Pioneer Works is a cultural center dedicated to experimentation, education, and production across disciplines. Through a broad range of educational programs, performances, residencies, and exhibitions, Pioneer Works transcends disciplinary boundaries to foster a community where alternative modes of thought are activated and supported. We strive to make culture accessible to all.

FUNDING

The 2020-2021 Season at Abrons Arts Center is supported, in part, by generous grants from the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the Jerome Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, and other generous Henry Street Settlement funders. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Image credit: screen capture from Black Movement Project by LaJuné McMillian