"Memory and Resonance"
Improvisation Performance by Alicia Díaz and Héctor “Coco” Barez
The Joel and Lila Harnett Musuem of Art
The University of Richmond
December 5, 2014
When I walked through The 2014 Harnett Biennial of American Prints in the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art at The University of Richmond I was struck by two prints: "Resonance IV" by Mika Aono Boyd and "I Still See Them" by Rashaun Rucker.
I was drawn to the circles in "Resonance IV." I saw the cycle between departure and return, the impossibility of escaping this. Its sense of both continuity and polarity and the tension between center and periphery attracted me. It resonated with how I understand movement.
When I approached "I Still See Them," I had a sense of immediate recognition. As a Puerto Rican, raised in a household filled with arts and politics as well as a deep familiarity with the printmaking tradition of Puerto Rico, I felt I had arrived at a work I’d known before. The gaze of the figure spoke to me of historical memory, a reminder of the roots of the racial violence that still plagues American society, and at the same time, of dignity and fortitude.
After living many formative years in New York City, and now residing and working in Richmond, VA, I am confronted in a new way by American history, particularly the legacy of slavery as it impacts our social and political realities today. I invited percussionist Héctor “Coco” Barez to investigate that legacy with me in relationship to these prints. In our work, we reference the Afro-Puerto Rican music and dance form, "bomba," which originated in Puerto Rico amongst slaves. We drew images and ideas from "Resonance IV" and "I Still See Them," as a way to ignite our own imagination and investigations. Ultimately, our collaboration is rooted in improvisation and a practice of deep listening.
December 5, 2014
Special thanks to Richard Waller, Martha Wright, Amy Au, Adriana Rossi, and Matthew Thornton.