Recent & Ongoing Work
Memory of a Drowning Landscape
Community, Performance and Regeneration
Next Residency: April 1-29th, 2017 Roma, Lesotho
In April, 2016 the first phase of an experiment to perform the resonance of place began in Lesotho, southern Africa. Memory of a Drowning Landscape built on the work of the Split the Village project, trying to articulate the global threat of climate change by looking at local loss.
In collaboration with students and colleagues from the National University of Lesotho’s Theatre Unit, we began to explore the intangible cultural heritage lost to communities visually, acoustically and orally along the flooded Phuthiatšana River Valley in rural Lesotho – the end result of the construction of the Metolong Dam. We started by playing with ideas of giving and receiving directions to places that are dependent on disappearing landmarks and flexible concepts of time.
2016 ASA Conference and Annual Meeting
I was on the Environmental Justice and the Performance of Place panel at the American Studies Association's Conference in Denver November 17th - 20th, 2016
The theme of the Conference was Home/Not Home:Centering American Studies Where We Are. Our panel explored the intersection of environmentalist rhetoric and performance around the idea of ecological space as home/not home. Of particular interest were the ways that environmentalists mobilize concentric and overlapping geographical scales of home (community, state, nation, planet) to make value claims for specific home places, and the ways in which activists leverage aspects of the Western imaginary around particular places to both support and trouble the ways these framings have justified ecological devastation. The panel also touched on the ways environmentalist performances are sited and distributed as they occur in particular spaces but appeal to an international imagination. My presentation focused on recent work in Lesotho with Memory of a Drowning Landscape.
Much of my recent artistic work/life has been connected to Lesotho, Africa. Since January 2005, when I arrived on my first Fulbright to teach, research and direct shows at the National University in Roma, I’ve been navigating the tricky cultural terrain of the small, mountainous country and making collaborative projects there involving students, colleagues, professional performers, NGO staff and members of rural village communities. My time in Lesotho continues to transform the way I look at and understand the world. My creative work is an attempt to take those disparate observations, stories, lessons, absurdities and incongruities and feed them into performance, writing and community projects. One form that has taken is a performance, installation & archive project exploring the global impact of local loss called Split the Village.
Split the Village uses performance and installation to capture the essence of place and begin to build a transitory cultural archive. The project’s inspiration is a 14 kilometer stretch of the Phuthiatšana River valley in rural Lesotho which was flooded in late 2014 when construction of the Metolong Dam was complete.